Friday, March 2, 2007


Hello to you,

Last month we designed the opening night festivities for the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. This was our second year designing for Sundance and it is one of my favourite gigs. Besides the lovely folks we get to work with on this adventure, it is such a pleasure to get to celebrate independent film and thinking. I got see about 30 features and about 40 shorts and my sight has almost returned to normal. It is indeed a surreal experience to head out of the house before the sun has come up to catch a morning screening, but what a treat it is. I had not realized how few films ever make it to theatrical release and how many interesting, impossible-to-catagorize films are shown only at Sundance.

Last year one of my favourite films was by director Bobcat Goldwaith. It was called STAY then and got a small release as SLEEPING DOGS LIE. The literal description of the plot of this lovely, sweet and well made film would probably only seriously get in your way with a lot of preconceived notions, so I will merely highly recommend that you netflix this film and enjoy it as I did, without any idea of what I was about to see. If you hate it, sorry, but at least we both can agree we have never seen anything like it.

Here are some of my favourites from Sundance 2007 so keep an eye out for them. I imagine all the films have web sites so go fishing for more info.

I had 2 very favourites and are they ever different. At the top was Chris Smiths, THE POOL. The fantastic doc director pulls off what must be beyond difficult with the graceful, charming and haunting story of 2 young boys and their fascination with the neighbors pool set in Goa, India. The movie is entirely in Hindu. Perfect in every way with a to me unknown cast brings such life to the sparest of words. Really astonishing and not to be missed.

The next was a hysterically funny and gross dazzler called TEETH. Screenings of this were packed with its terrific word of mouth and its actual delivery of chills and laughter, often at the same time. The heart of the film is the radiant Jess Wexler, who won the acting award for this tricky role. The film explores the multicultural concept of VAGINA DENTATA, which is exactly what you think it is. Don’t read any more about this film and just go see it when you can, but be warned it is GRAPHIC.

Go see Tamara Jenkin’s perfect THE SAVAGES with flawless performances from national treasures Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Liney. Alternately funny and depressing and beautify designed and shot.

I was charmed by Molly Shannon in the sweet and batty YEAR OF THE DOG by the genius Mike White, author and star of the singular CHUCK AND BUCK. Justin Theroux directorial debut DEDICATION is smart and surprising with great performances by Billy Crudup and Mandy Moore.

EXPIRED features Jason Patric and Samantha Morton in fascinating funny and creepy off kilter performances as meter maids in L.A. LOW AND BEHOLD was a fascinating look at post Katrina New Orleans and the surreal challenge of trying to function there. Amazing performances with the most odd landscape ever seen. The second instillation of a Crispin Glover trilogy, IT IS FINE< EVERYTHING IS FINE! Is beyond description with a new take on every aspect of story telling. Not for the faint of heart but if challenging unbridled originality is for you check out this one of a kind film.

There were so many stand out performances. Julie Christie was heartbreaking and charming in the sad AWAY FROM HER; Jared Leto is unrecognizable in his chilling and haunting performance of John Lennon’s killer David Chapman in CHAPTER 27.

GREAT documentaries this year. GHOSTS OF ABU GHARIB is so haunting and unnerving with the indisputable evidence of the atrocities heaped upon the prisoners and guards. This Rory Kennedy project is airing on HBO this week so check the schedule and do not miss this. MY KID COULD PAINT THAT - Some of the best docs are when the story being documented takes a u-turn as is evidenced in this strange telling of the making of a 4 year old art star from Binghamton, New York. While selling works priced over 100,000.00, a story on a tabloid TV show reveals she may not be all she seems. This true story plays like a thriller. GIRL 27 reveals the case of a starlet in the early 1930’s that is brutally raped at a party thrown for employees of MGM studio. The director of this film is in it almost more than the subject, raising the question of a documentarian's place in their projects, but the subject matter is so compelling and thoroughly researched it’s admirable and fascinating.

I did not see HEAR AND NOW [doc winner of the festival, MANDA BALA [also a winner] or CRAZY LOVE but heard fantastic things about them and they all got deals.

You can check out lots more about his year’s festival on and for the first time ever many of this year's short films are available to download on itunes.

Happy watching,

Ps - every week we hope to share with you a few thoughts on what we are enjoying right now with the hopes of you enjoying it too. Thanks for the kind mail!


decor8 said...

Thanks so much for this recap, I love Molly Shannon...

Enjoying Top Design, by the way!

All the best to you Todd.


Anonymous said...

cool. thanks for letting us know about the downloads on itunes!

by the way, i enjoyed the charlie harper exhibit in cincinnati. i was at the opening reception but was not able to talk to you. maybe next time!