The Park Record editorial, January 20-22, 2010 |

The Park Record editorial, January 20-22, 2010

Independent filmmakers are more relevant than ever

Movies have the power to do much more than entertain and, based on this year’s lineup of Sundance films, that is more true now than ever.

With the addition of the World Dramatic and Documentary categories, the New Frontier showcase, and this year’s Nexus segment devoted to low-budget and experimental work, Sundance has created an incubator for independent artists working on the leading edge of new ideas and technology. In past years, films chosen by the festival programmers have explored cultural boundaries, documented corruption and oppression, unveiled groundbreaking technology and foretold economic and environmental challenges that are just now coming to light.

This year’s Sundance documentaries take viewers behind the lines in Afghanistan ("Restrepo"), follow detainees from Guantanamo to Yemen ("The Oath"), examine the Mormon Church’s role in banning gay marriages in California ("8: The Mormon Proposition") and reveal the heart-wrenching living conditions of migrant factory workers in China. In fact, many of this year’s filmmakers have been working on their projects for years even though the issues they have been investigating have only recently become headlines.

The dramatic films re-enact history ("Howl"), explore a myriad of human relationships ("Yo Tambien") and experiment with new tools to convey the filmmaker’s vision ("Cane Toads: The Conquest").

The festival has also been known to open doors for films that may not otherwise receive national attention. For example, last year an unknown film called "Push: Based on the novel by Sapphire" went on to become an Oscar contender.

In addition to screenings, the festival also hosts panels of filmmakers and industry experts who will discuss everything from censorship to film distribution. Over the coming week, the Filmmaker Lodge on Main Street will be teeming with debates over the roles of journalists in war zones, about human rights and about the creative process.

Each year, Utah residents have the opportunity to immerse themselves in this cultural and artistic adventure without leaving the state. Take a few hours over the next 10 days to slip out of your comfort zone and be the first to see a film about a world you may have never imagined.

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