Sundance 2014

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While the Sundance Film Festival has not necessarily buried the logline of Todd Miller’s documentary, Dinosaur 13, early versions of the festival’s film guide promised to deliver the true story of one of the greatest discoveries in human history – the 1990 unearthing of a the world’s largest and most complete T. rex skeleton in an unassuming South Dakota bluff. Despite a more full synopsis of the film now floating around, it’s best to approach Miller’s film with the minimum of previous knowledge. Depending on your age and interest in dino bones, pieces of the story will likely ring a bell, but Miller’s film chronicles a shocking, unnerving, and often very surprising story. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that one of the film’s many talking heads briefly mentions that what sounds like a rousing story about discovery and human interest has “a bad ending,” hinting early on that Dinosaur 13 has a very different story to tell – and it does, it’s just unfortunate that it’s buried underneath whole piles of cinematic refuse.

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There’s no science when it comes to picking the big winners at a film festival before the first film strip unfurls (or someone hits play on a digital file, as is most often the case these days), no proven method to the madness, no guaranteed formula to finding the best of the best. It’s a gamble every single time, and that’s precisely where much of the joy in attending a film festival comes from. That discovery, maddening as it may seem. This year’s Sundance Film Festival is predictably stuffed with all manner of films and talents – from the star-studded to the utterly up-and-coming – and while it’s certainly easy to pick out pictures that “sound” like they might be good or at least feature “bankable” talent, there are always a few sleepers that sneak in and captivate an unsuspecting audience. That all said, we here at Film School Rejects have attempted to apply our expertise and our personal interests to this year’s festival in order to pick out a handful of films that just might be the best of the fest, but that are at least guaranteed to send us running into a theater to see them once the festival kicks up. It’s time for Sundance! And it’s time for films! It’s even time for anticipation! And now it’s time for some anticipated Sundance films!

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Sundance

There’s no shortage of film-related projects stumping for cash on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, but come winter, there’s always a special smattering of films looking for fundage on the site, and for one simple reason – they’ve been accepted into the Sundance Film Festival and they need financial assistance to facilitate that dream. It certainly sounds strange to those who associate Sundance with recognizable stars and gifting suites, but for all the “Hollywood Goes to the Snow” coverage and buzz the festival pulls in, there are still a bevy of struggling filmmakers who genuinely need help to get to Park City to see their film screen. In an ideal situation, crowdfunding exists to help creative minds craft works that they could not afford on their own (or, as is the case with many projects, work that they pointedly do not want to be privately funded by a big studio, business, or bank) thanks to the support of interested consumers (are you likely to donate to a stranger’s project if you don’t want to somehow enjoy it yourself?). Sundance, for all its glitz and glamour and big parties and big names, still ostensibly exists to serve the independent film community. As such, this year’s festival boasts a number of buzzed-about selections that turned (and, in some cases, are still turning) to the good-hearted people of the Internet to gather some scratch. So just who is that going to pay off for?

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Sundance

It happens every year. Smack in the middle of the seemingly never-ending time period of “consideration” and loud arguments known as awards season, the Sundance Film Festival announces their selections for their upcoming spectacle. Such announcements could not come at a better time, really, as they stand to remind us of all the fresh films awaiting our eyes in mere weeks. (It’s okay, we only have to think about the same ten or so awards contenders for another four months, really.) For the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, the fest’s programmers selected 118 feature-length films (from 37 countries and 54 first-time filmmakers) from a boggling 12,218 submissions. In short – there’s a lot of fresh stuff to look forward to here, and we’re just starting to give it the attention it deserves. Despite the depth of field to dive into here (including Dramatic titles in competition, the NEXT category, and the newly launched Sundance Kids section), the festival is not quite done announcing selections – picks from its Premieres and Documentary Premieres will be announced later – but as those are typically the films we already have awareness of far in advance (if your Sundance film has a bunch of star power beside it, you’ll probably bow in the Premiere section), they’ve got enough buzz behind them already. We’re already looking for the unexpected gems, and here’s hoping one of these picks pans out come January.

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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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