Friday, January 28, 2011

Sundance USA

This was the second year that the Michigan Theater participated in Sundance USA. Last year, the featured film was Cyrus, and one of the writer/directors (The Duplass Brothers) as well as Jonah Hill (one of the stars of the film) flew to Ann Arbor and answered questions about the film after the showing. This year, the theater was honored to not only show an official film selection from Sundance 2011 (Win Win) and a selection of shorts from 2010 as a part of Sundance USA, but was able to add an additional film (Cedar Rapids) that was filmed in Ann Arbor and the surrounding areas.

The 2010 shorts were in general quite entertaining. Some were better than others, but I think the night was carried by two short films in particular: Wisdom Teeth is an animated short about pulling a stitch out after a wisdom tooth extraction that is a bit disturbing, but really great; Drunk History is a live action film about what happens when Jen Kirkman drinks two bottles of wine and then talks about Abe Lincoln. You can watch Drunk History at the link above, and many of the other shorts have made it online at this point, so check them out!

Both the films from this years festival were great. Last night we saw Win Win for Alicia’s birthday. Paul Giamatti was fantastic, and although I found it to be kind of sad, it was really quite funny throughout the film. I forgot to bring my camera last night, but grab my fancy new camera bag tonight before the show. We saw Cedar Rapids, which was also a bit of a comedy-with-a-moral. Filmed in Ann Arbor and set in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, it was a premise that was immediately familiar to me. I enjoyed seeing shots of the Broadway Bridge and the old power station (both on my walk to the farmers’ market).

Before the show started, the mayors of Ann Arbor and Cedar Rapids, IA took the stage, with Mayor Hieftje presenting the Iowan mayor with a key to the city.

Following the show, the director answered questions (and thanked all of the extras who had shown up for the screening)...

I’m hoping both of these films will gain broader distribution, but look for them in a town near you, and watch for a Sundance USA event near you next January!

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