This is a special guest post by Sundance team member Joel Plosz.
Hello, my friends.
The films of Sundance have served as an excellent filler between my frequent bathroom visits. It is so fortunate that I just happen to have tickets for the films playing near my restroom locations of choice. Could it be the altitude that has my routine in disarray? Or perhaps being in the vicinity of so many talented people has my system all a bother with excitement. Whatever it is that is causing this unusual bodily behavior, I find myself in an almost perpetual search for the next pitstop opportunity.
But after a day full of bathrooms and film breaks, I think I have garnered a glimpse of shocking revelation: perhaps my desires of pristine porcelain at a film festival is a poor allocation of my attention. Maybe, just maybe, I have been so focused on what I thought I needed that I have missed the point entirely.
Worry not—there is meaning to this uncomfortably personal confession. When sifting through the vast Sundance selection and deciding which films I wanted to see, I, like any reasonable person with personal interests would do, selected only the films that I wanted to see. A novel thing to do, I know.
See, I prefer an imaginative more unconventional story as opposed to a gritty realistic one. I ponder more existential questions than I do political or social ones. I like my heavy themes buried in frivolity or subtlety as opposed to an in-your-face approach. Suffice it to say, I selected films accordingly.
I was disappointed then to find that a lot of my top picks were absent from the schedule and some of the films that I knew I wouldn’t be interested in managed to sneak themselves on there. I quickly attempted to resolve this problem by shopping around in hopes of trading them for anything I could. I knew what I wanted because I knew which stories and styles I was interested in. What I didn’t know at the time and I have now discovered is that the supposed “uninteresting” is pretty dang interesting.
My Sundance festival began on Monday with the screening of Corpo Celeste, a film I disregarded in the selection process because I thought it looked like a sleeping pill, and was pleasantly surprised—nay, amazed by the film’s subtlety and symbolism. It is a film that has stuck with me and has me pondering the images and their meaning. I followed that with An Oversimplification of Her Beauty—a film near the top of my list—and was served with a big helping of self indulgence (and I don’t use the term lightly as some of my favorite films have been described as such). While I enjoyed many moments of it and was inspired by its unique and creative approach, I was disappointed with what I perceived as interesting.
The next day followed with Middle of Nowhere—another film I dreaded seeing—and was surprised to find a beautiful film was some fantastic performances. The fact that it was a piece of eye candy didn’t detract from it either. It is my third favorite Sundance film so far.
To put it short, by watching films that assumed I would not enjoy, I have discovered that my preferences are not nearly as narrow as I thought and that my interests should not act as restrictions—because if you don’t give something a chance, how can you know you are not interested in it? I have realized that I was missing the point entirely. Instead of focusing on seeing more of what I thought I liked, I should have been focusing on expanding my perception. I was searching for restrooms when I should have been seeking films (see how I worked that metaphor in there?).
So, my advice to future Sundancers is to find at least three films from the selection that you think you would hate and put them on your list. Choose three films that are about stuff you don’t care about or would bore you to death—and be ready to be surprised. If you aren’t being stretched you aren’t growing, and growing is what I think this Sundance trip as all about. That, and exploring the many bathrooms of Park City. I mean seriously, what is causing this digestive madness?
Farewell, my friends.