The Hands of Bresson

Sundry observations on the art of cinema and world film culture

Park City, Day 2

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Festival Headquarters at the Marriott Park City was humming with activity early this morning as I made my way to one of the four screening booths they have specially set up for journalists in the Sundance Press Office. Though the air outside was bone-numbing due to subfreezing temperatures, and the sun had risen just half an hour before, the nerve center for the festival’s many credentialed reporters, scribes, and bloggers was already a-flurry at the ungodly hour of 8am. Old friends greeted each other, new acquaintances exchanged pleasantries, and everyone else secured their badges. Some parked themselves at the WiFi stations in the adjacent café and got right to work. It felt as if the entire building had collectively drained a Starbucks lagoon; the room was quaking with chatter.

At the Materials Desk, I wrote down the names of the films I hoped to see before their first press screening, to make my schedule a bit less harried in the days to come. The guy at the desk apologetically informed me that “screeners are on their way out,” before presenting me with a skimpy list of films available to watch. So I checked out Mermaid, a technically inventive, mythic-modern coming-of-age fable about a girl who lives by the sea, written and directed by Russian filmmaker Anna Melikyan. Then, for my own self-edification, and because I am interested in the subject, I watched The Linguists, directed by Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, and Jeremy Newberger, a fascinating 70-minute documentary about two dedicated field researchers who hop from one continent to another attempting to record the world’s most endangered languages (ever heard of Chulym? How about Kallawaya? Didn’t think so) before they go extinct, and occasionally endangering themselves. (More on both films later.) Coming out of the booth—little more than a tiny Sony, a chair, and a flimsy black curtain to draw behind you for the illusion of privacy, like at a polling station—a female journalist looked at me, appalled. “Did you just watch a movie in there?” she demanded. I nodded, smiling. “That’s the screening booth? A little TV and a curtain?” Maybe, I thought later, she believed this was where all the press screenings were happening. Ah, you can’t please everyone.

P.S. I’m trying to get my hands on a digital camera. With any luck, there’ll be some images to post very soon.

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Written by eyemaster

January 30, 2009 at 12:09 am

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