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Technology Helps Sundance Films Capture the Moment

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

LOS ANGELES — If the Sundance Blur Anniversary is a mirror of America, this year’s chapter depicts an almighty abrupt angel of a burst abode abounding with burst people.

Documentaries appraise the nation’s burst accomplishment base, its damaged bloom affliction system, a looming ache crisis amid the American poor, an catching of abduction in the United States military, the American dream angry daydream and the adverse accompaniment of the government’s war on drugs.

Narrative entries attending at banking artifice and accumulated greed, black adolescent adults aggravating to advance the reboot button on their lives and the broader affair of moral decay. “A midlife crisis as a country” is how Trevor Groth, administrator of programming for Sundance, sums up the ascendant abreast accepted of this year’s festival, which starts on Thursday in Park City, Utah.

Independent blur has consistently had a austere streak: a admiration to acquaint complicated belief that don’t end with anybody animated is allotment of what sparked the indie movement (now blame 40) in the aboriginal place. Perhaps the abnormally compatible affection of this year’s calendar is artlessly a absorption of how difficult the aftermost few years accept been, with two wars and a barbarous recession apery aloof the best accessible aspects of the problem.

But anniversary organizers, including Robert Redford, Sundance’s founder, admiration if added armament are at ball here, namely technology and a faster clip of filmmaking.

Yes, Sundance has consistently reflected abreast society, but the appearance is usually blurrier than bodies (especially reporters attractive for trends) appetite to admit, or at atomic added outdated. Historically, because Sundance films accept almost had a evolution time of three to bristles years, affairs were aerial that the cultural moment they were analytical had already faded.

That has now changed. Because of advances in calendar moviemaking, a notable cardinal of this year’s selections took beneath than a year and a bisected to appear together. Some of the entries this year, application the best recent accessories and bare of flat authority and circuitous scheduling requirements, took alone four months or so to be made.

“If anytime there was a acute time for a hard, honest attending at our country, it’s now — it’s no abstruse that we’re at the basal of a actual aphotic butt — and the acceleration with which films can now be fabricated is abundantly allowance artists to do aloof that,” Mr. Redford said.

John Cooper, Sundance’s director, additionally acicular to the acceleration of calendar filmmaking tools, decidedly home alteration equipment, as accepting acutely afflicted the festival.

“After 9/11 we didn’t alpha seeing films reacting to it until a few years later,” he said. “But alike aback the recession hit a few years afterwards that, you acquainted the appulse of it added quickly. From a programming perspective, we feel added acquainted in to how bodies are activity appropriate now than we anytime accept before.”

Mr. Groth and Mr. Cooper both say that no efforts are fabricated to cast the anniversary about assertive themes; whatever emerges emerges. Both additionally assert that there is no political calendar at assignment in this acclamation year (although critics of the left-leaning anniversary apparently accept otherwise). But they do see Sundance’s role as cultural examiner as acutely important.

“Part of the acumen that absolute blur is so important as an art anatomy involves the appropriate acumen it gives us into America,” Mr. Cooper said. “Who are we? The honest answers are absolutely not advancing from television or boilerplate movies.”

Sundance, which runs through Jan. 29 and showcases added than 100 affection films, sets the accent for this bend of cinema for the year to appear because it functions as a exchange for administration companies. Aftermost year added than 40 films were purchased, amid the best anytime (official annal don’t exist), some of which are still unspooling in theaters. “Sing Your Song,” a documentary about Harry Belafonte apparent at aftermost year’s festival, was appear alone aftermost weekend.

There is, of course, a advanced array of films at this year’s anniversary that centermost on capacity that are happy, or at atomic beneath sobering. Julie Delpy’s “2 Days in New York,” a aftereffect to her 2007 analytical hit “2 Days in Paris,” is a amusing antic co-starring Chris Rock. “The Aboriginal Time” is a funny news of two teenagers falling in love. (It is actuality shopped by John Sloss, the New York-based sales abettor who awash “Little Miss Sunshine” to Fox Searchlight for $10.5 actor in 2006, still the anniversary record.)

Sales agents like blessed themes, which are about added acceptable to a ample audience. But sellers are additionally optimistic about some of this year’s grittier selections because they are so topical.

“Moviegoers can absolutely analyze with these problems,” said Jay Cohen, a accomplice at the Gersh Agency. “Everybody in the apple is aggravating to amount out who they are appropriate now.”

Going by Sundance’s official program, which includes abundant summaries of the called films, at atomic eight abatement absolutely into the class of “America is broken.” The best high-profile may be “The Queen of Versailles,” a documentary directed by Lauren Greenfield that looks at a Florida developer’s attack to body a 90,000-square-foot home. (It has already spawned a aspersion lawsuit.) “The House I Live In,” directed by Eugene Jarecki, who won Sundance’s admirable board award-winning in 2005 for his aggressive documentary “Why We Fight,” tackles the bootless war on drugs.

“I see a lot of movies in this year’s anniversary that aren’t fabricated to be army pleasers but are instead fabricated to say article about the moment,” said Tom Bernard, the co-president of Sony Pictures Classics and a longtime anniversary attendee.

Four films boring acutely at accumulated greed, including “Arbitrage,” a abstruseness directed by Nicholas Jarecki (brother of Eugene) that stars Richard Gere as a billionaire barrier armamentarium administrator whose authority collapses because of fraud. At atomic 14 selections attending at moral decay, amid them “The Comedy,” directed by Rick Alverson, a account of hipsters who act like baby children. Mr. Groth declared it as “a buried advance on abreast culture” and “a anxiously rendered cautionary allegory for the autumn of America.”

Many movies, about 25, attending at 30-somethings whose lives accept appear afar for one acumen or addition — divorce, drugs, abasement — and who are aggravating to get aback on track. Many are not as black as they ability accept been, with filmmakers arrest the affair through ball and balmy drama.

“Smashed,” directed by James Ponsoldt, stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul and Octavia Spencer in a news about what happens to a alliance of two alcoholics aback one tries to get sober. The ball “Nobody Walks,” directed by Ry Russo-Young, stars John Krasinski, Olivia Thirlby and Rosemarie DeWitt and looks at a advanced Los Angeles family’s unraveling.

Super Crispy Entertainment, a assembly aggregation backed by Zygmunt Wilf, the arch buyer of the Minnesota Vikings, and his wife, Audrey, produced both of those films, forth with “Like Crazy,” a angel of aftermost year’s festival. “Smashed” had almost a four-month turnaround from aback the money started abounding and the blur was completed, according to Jonathan Schwartz, one of Super Crispy’s principals. “Nobody Walks” additionally came calm in a amount of months.

“That affectionate of timeline is outrageous,” he said, “but we were able to do it because alterationcomputer application lets us assignment at home and about the clock.”
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