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Madelyn Most

This domain will contain  overviews and summaries of film festivals, film industry news and developments written by Madelyn Most who frequently serves on Juries.

Expect her coverage from  those festivals where she has been invited as jury.

The Chemnitz  Schlingel  Film festival for  KindS and young audiences October 12-19th

Leipzig  Documentary and Animation Film Festival        29 October -2 November

IDFA,    Documentary Festival in Amsterdam        Nov. 19-29th

and Camerimage   Nov 15-19th.


2011 My Sundance film festival

This is an overview of my 2011 Sundance experience 

For Europeans, heading to a remote mining town now ski resort and festival headquarters in Park City, Utah, tucked away in the Wasatch mountains outside of Salt Lake City, it's no simple journey. It entails careful planning several months in advance, serious budgetary calculation to secure a bed in those expensive shared- condos, and blocking extra time to your return schedule as flipping time zones wrecks havoc with your metabolism already combating the germs you've ingested.

This year over 50,000 people attended Sundance, meaning the theatre venues could no longer accommodate the awaiting crowds: the demand for entry and general ticket sales far exceeded the number of available seats while  EXPRESS PASS holders (who paid $2,500-$3,500) had last minute priority over everyone else leaving a lot of disgruntled festival veterans with costly ticket packages out in the cold.  

Reputed to be the most prestigious and competitive film festival in the world to get your film accepted into, Sundance received  3,812 film submissions this year and selected  118  for competition. Of the 3,812 feature length films, 1,943 came from the U.S. and 1,869 were International. There were  16  U.S. Documentary, 16 U.S. Dramatic, 12 World Cinema Documentary and 14 World Cinema Dramatic. There were 15 Premieres and 8 Documentary Premieres from established filmmakers. The 11 films in the Spotlight category came from Greece, Brazil, South Korea, Denmark, Chile, U.K. and U.S.A., and the entry from France/Canada's was "Incendies".  The "NEXT" embodying  the "true spirit of indie filmmaking meaning low- no budget films showcased 8 American films.  Billed as rowdy, raucous, and unruly, the Park City at Midnight slot screened 8 films that promised to keep you up all night long. The Native Showcase was part of Robert Redford's original vision to promote Native American filmmaking but this section has not really flourished in recent years and had only  one  film and one program of shorts on offer. Added to all this is the New Frontier section, the Shorts program, and the From the Collection  section so in all the chaos of activity, everyone can find something to their taste.

The expanded use of Digital Media allowed people from all over the world to share the live events like Opening Day, Closing Night Awards ceremonies and special screen performances via  social networking, downloading smart phone apps, or visiting for blogs, videos, photos,and live coverage .     

Running parallel to film are non-stop music events. The importance of music composition and  hip/hit soundtracks to the success of any film is common knowledge, so Sundance has become THE meeting place for composers, musicians, singer-songwriters, and performers trying to their work known to filmmakers and to network among themselves.

Norman Lear, Michael Moore, and Thomas Newman participated in the Power of Story panels while  Filmmakers Lodge tackled subjects like  Marketing in the New Indie Universe, Crime and Punishment, The Aha! Moment: Making Change Stick(y), The Science of Ourselves, Your Brain on 2011: Technology and Human Evolution with some of the most edgy,political, controversial directors discussing their films and their fight for human rights and social justice.

 Amy Goodman of National Public Radio (U.S.) broadcast live from the Lodge; animated interviews with Andrew Rossi, director of  Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times, and Eugene Jarecki, director of  "Reagan" were listened to and commented on by listeners around the country whose presence was felt in the conference room on  Main Street.

My favorite films were from the Documentary strand are :  ‘Hot Coffee'(everything you know about the McDonalds coffee spilling lawsuit is untrue), ‘Sing Your Song'(mesmerizing portrait of Harry Belafonte as civil rights, human rights activist), ‘If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front'(those calling  these environmentalists ‘eco-terrorists' are themselves the terrorists), ‘Page One'(one year behind the scenes at the troubled New York Times), ‘Being Elmo'(loving portrait of a puppeteer), ‘Buck'(famous horse whisperer), ‘Miss Representation'(women as projected in media), ‘Project Nim'(teaching a chimp to speak), ‘Troubadours'(the 1970's James Taylor/ Janis Ian era) , ‘Hell and Back Again' (Marine's rehabilitation after tour of duty in Afghanistan)- each film was honest, personal, rigorous, compelling- some were life changing.

The World Cinema Documentary competition included  ‘ An African Election', ‘The Bengali Detective', ‘The Black Power Mixtape', ‘Family Portrait in Black and White', ‘The Flaw', ‘The Green Wave', ‘Hell and Back Again', ‘Knuckle', ‘Position Among the Stars', ‘Project Nim', ‘Senna', and ‘Shut Up Little Man' but with so many people standing in line for hours in the freezing temperatures, a lot of us couldn't get in.

The BIG EVENT was on Day 8, January 27th  at Eccles Theatre (1,270 seats) for the World Premiere of  "Life in A Day".  YouTube asked its users all round the world to capture their life on camera on July 24th , 2010 and to upload their segments on YouTube so it could be compiled into a film. Over 80,000 submissions were received by director Kevin Macdonald and his editor at Scott Free Productions in London, and the 5,000 hours of material were logged and whittled into a 90 minute feature film of a single day on earth. Cameras in the Eccles auditorium connected the audience around the world and there was a global interactive Q & A session afterwards via Google Moderator. 26 of the films participants from Kabul, Cairo, Bali, Peru, Moscow, Illinois, etc. were on stage to answer questions that were sent in from all over the world. The simultaneous transmission was watched by over one million viewers that night and during Sundance, over 13 million people tuned into the Life in a Day Channel.

And  the winners of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival: 

Grand Jury Prize:  Documentary-     " HOW TO DIE IN OREGON"-   Peter D. Richardson, director-  (1994  legislation in Oregon lets physicians assist patients with suicide allowing them to die with dignity)

Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic-     "LIKE CRAZY"  - Drake Doremus, director                                                       (Los Angeles college students true love romance challenged by transatlantic separation )

World Cinema Jury Prize:  Documentary-   " HELL AND BACK AGAIN" - Danfung Dennis, director   (Marine Sgt.  Serving in Afghanistan faces trauma of rehabilitation and re-entry into life in America)

World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic- "HAPPY, HAPPY" -  Anne Sewitsky, director                           (Norwegian sex comedy/drama of  housewife's affair with next door neighbor)

Audience Award : Documentary-  "BUCK"- Cindy Meehl, director (legendary horse whisperer teaches people to communicate with horses through instinct and gentleness, not punishment)

Audience Award: Dramatic-  "CIRCUMSTANCE"- Maryam Keshavarz, director  (USA/Iran/Lebanon) Privileged Teheran family caught in dangerous triangle of suspicion, surveillance, betrayal)

World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary-   "SENNA" - Asif Kapadia, director (archive footage builds riveting portrait of Formula One's greatest race driver,  Brazilian icon,  Ayrton Senna)

World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic-  "KINYARWANDA"- Alrick Brown, director (1994 genocide in Rwanda, mosques became refuges where Muslims, Christians,Hutus and Tutsis protected each other)

Directing Award:  Documentary-  "RESURRECT DEAD:THE MYSTERY OF THE TOYNBEE TILES"   -Jon Foy, director (search for meaning of cryptic tiled messages  appearing in U.S. and South American sidewalks)

Directing Award: Dramatic - "MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE" -Sean Durkin, director  (psychologically damaged woman escapes abusive cult and haunted by nightmares, paranoia, and multiple personas )

World Cinema Directing Award: Documentary-   "PROJECT NIM"- James Marsch, director (landmark experiment spanning 25 years where chimp is taught to communicate with sign language, questions what it is to be human)

World Cinema Directing Award:  Dramatic- "TYRANNOSAUR"- Paddy Considine, director (tormented, self-destructive man meets Christian charity shop worker fighting  demons of her own)

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award:  "ANOTHER HAPPY DAY"- directed and written by Sam Levinson (disturbing look into upper class American family emotional dynamics and dysfunction)

World Cinema Screenwriting Award: "RESTORATION"- written by Erez Kav (A stoic Israeli clinging to the illusion that he can maintain a vanishing way of life)

Documentary Editing Award: "IF A TREE FALLS: A STORY OF THE EARTH LIBERATION FRONT"  edited by Matthew Hamachek and Marshall Curry,director. (sensitive portrait of thoughtful citizen radicalized against timber companies bent on environmental  plunder)

World Cinema Documentary Editing Award: "THE BLACK POWER MIXTAPE 1967-1975"   edited by Goran Hugo Olsson and Hanna Lefonqvist  (newly discovered  archives from  Swedish journalists who filmed key players, artists, activists commenting on the Black Power movement in America)

Excellence in Cinematography Award: Documentary-  " THE REDEMPTION OF GENERAL BUTT NAKED" Eric Strauss and Daniele Anastasion, directors ( Liberia's brutal warlord renounces his past by reinventing himself as evangelist, preaching where he once murdered)

Excellence in Cinematography Award: Dramatic-  "PARIAH"  cinematographer Bradford Young (caught between two worlds, young female teen struggles with her sexual identity and her conservative family)

World Cinema Cinematography Award: Documentary- "HELL AND BACK AGAIN" cinematographer  Danfung Dennis (Marine serving in Afghanistan faces painful rehabilitation on his return home)

`World Cinema Cinematography Award: Dramatic -"ALL YOUR DEAD ONES" cinematographer Diego Jimenez (allegory for Colombia's ongoing civil war, farmer finds dead bodies in his cornfield and is harassed by govt. authorities)

World Cinema Special Jury Prize: Documentary- "POSITION AMONG THE STARS",  Leonard Retel Helmrich, director  (part 3 of trilogy shows modern  Indonesia through Jakarta slum family facing encroaching globalization threatening life as they know it)

Special Jury Prize: Documentary -   "BEING ELMO:A PUPPETEER'S JOURNEY"  Constance Marks, director   (loving portrait of a young  boy who dreams to become a puppeteer, now  creator of  Sesame Street's most beloved creature)

Special Jury Prize: Dramatic-  "ANOTHER EARTH" Mike Cahill,director  (tragedy besets astrophysics student forcing her to consider a mirror version of herself)


Despite everything, Sundance  is the best film festival of my year and once again it has renewed and revised my outlook on life and my belief in humanity.


Madelyn Most                        February 2011


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