Slamdance 2011 remembered
Ryan Summerlin January 28, 2011
Slamdance 2011 has been a success.
So said the film festival’s president and co-founder Peter Baxter during an interview Thursday with The Park Record.
"Attendance this year has been excellent," he said. "I heard Park City has been less busy compared to last year, but we haven’t felt it. Most of the screenings have been sold out, and everyone, filmmakers and audiences who have come by this year have had a great experiences."
One of the draws to this year’s festival was the quality and topics of the documentary competition films, Baxter said.
"The Dramatic competition has been strong, but what is interesting this year is the fact the documentary program continues to create audience excitement," he said. "A number of documentaries have stood out to be very strong in terms of audience reaction."
The most-notable was Michael Barnett’s "Superheroes," which follows real-life, citizens who donned their bullet-proof costumes, masks and helmets and take to the streets to fight or deter crime.
"The film got a lot attention and sparked people’s imagination, both on the street and certainly here at the screenings," Baxter said. "I would expect the film to be an audience favorite in the theatres later on this year."
From a social aspect, the film "Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football," directed by Rashid Ghazi, was a hot item because of its subject matter High school football and the Muslim religion.
"This is a fascinating film that centers around American high school football at Fordson High School where all the players on the team are Muslim," Baxter said. "The reaction has been tremendous because we all see in this film that, as Americans, we really do all want similar things in our lives. Regardless of our background, our goals and wants are similar if not the same."
Among Slamdance’s international films, Baxter cited Van Maximilian Carlson’s ""Bhopali" as a standout. The film looks at the second generation of children affected by the Union Carbide gas tragedy of 1984, where thousands of people died after exposure to leaking methyl isocyanate.
"It showed how a community and environment in India is still coming out of the tragedy," Baxter said. "This has to do with a lot of what’s on people’s mind now with their own environments and how we must protect it."
Those are only three examples of the quality of films that premiered at Slamdance 2011, Baxter said.
"I have to say, if you look at every feature in competition, each has been able to spark something in and unto itself, which has made this year quite special," he said. "With independent filmmakers taking a more do-it-yourself approach to promoting, marketing and distributing their films, having Slamdance continue in Park City is very special and important to us.
"When people in Park City go and see Slamdance films and meet the filmmakers, it creates the momentum and belief that the filmmaker can make a successful and popular film after being alone for so long I the filmmaking process."
Slamdance 2011 culminated with the award announcements Thursday evening.