Sundance Blog: Surrealism

Sorry about the late start on today’s blog, folks — I succeeded for the first time this week in getting up for an 8:30am screening and was rewarded with one of the best documentaries I have seen in a long, long time, director Nannette Burstein’s American Teen. It was recommended to myself and my colleagues by the now Academy Award nominated Jason Reitman — and what can I say? The dude has taste.

Yesterday was a very surreal day here at the Sundance Film Festival. The most surreal moment was around 5:30pm, sitting in the packed press screening for Morgan Spurlock’s Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?. It was about the midway point of a fantastic film when Alex leaned over to me and whispered that Heath Ledger had been found dead in his New York apartment. It was quite a shock, as you can imagine. Even more shocking was the knowledge that so many of Hollywood’s major film journalists were all sitting in the same screening room in Park City, Utah, many not aware of what happened. But once the screening was over and the applause for Morgan Spurlock’s doc subsided, it was as if a bomb went off. iPhones, Blackberries and laptops all came flying out of pockets and bags — something unbelievable had happened.

The death of Heath Ledger, an actor who was both coming into his prime and about to take a giant leap to major stardom with this summer’s The Dark Knight, is indescribably sad. So much talent has been lost before it was truly realized — and by accident, no less. It is a deeply saddening event.

After getting with my stellar writing team here at FSR and getting coverage of the Ledger tragedy up on the site, I was forced to move on. There is still plenty of Sundance to be covered. Along with the awesome Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?, I also caught Alan Ball’s nearly brilliant teen coming of age drama Towelhead, the Chuck Palahniuk adaptation Choke and first time director Rupert Wyatt’s film The Escapist. Overall, it was another great day of film — cleansing my palette from the late night disaster that was Downloading Nancy.

Today I will trek on to more screenings. As I mentioned, I caught an early screening of American Teen, followed by a showing of the Naomi Watts-starred thriller Funny Games. After a little work break and possibly some food (which would be the first time I’ve eaten since midday yesterday), I will be taking in Adventures of Power, starring Entourage‘s Adrian Grenier. Finally, I will finish my day with Quentin Tarantino Presents Hell Ride, a badass biker movie that has not been getting the best buzz so far — but I go into it with an open mind. I have to — this is Sundance, baby!

Here is a list of reviews from yesterday’s movies:

The EscapistC

Keep an eye on our Sundance 2008 Homepage for more from Park City.

Neil Miller is the Founder and Publisher of Film School Rejects. For almost a decade, he has been talking movies on television, the radio, and the Internet.

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