I find it hard to believe that we are nearing the end of our fourth day @ the Windrider Forum. I've put a Rough Cut video up @ the Windrider Forum site. It will give you a bit of a taste of what has been happening during the first few days of this week. Another video will be up on Saturday, if all goes as planned. We head home on Sunday.
In terms of the Festival, I haven't seen as many films as Imbi, Kaili and the rest of the 150+ Windrider folk here – but I have seen a few that I've found interesting. First, a short.
This morning we watched Short Term 12, a film by Destin Daniel Cretton, produced by Michelle Steffes – both with strong connections to the Windrider Forum. Though Michelle and Destin had chatted briefly before last year's Windrider Forum @ Park City – they became friends at that event when both showed their short films. Michelle showcased her short film, Driftwood. Destin and Lowell Frank's Deacon's Mondays was shown as part of the Angelus Award Winners evening.
This year, Short Term 12 was one of 5600 entrants in the Sundance Shorts program. It was one of 96 shorts chosen to be premiered @ Sundance and one of the 10 recognized at the Sundance Short Film Festival Awards last night – it was the winner!
Brad William Henke (Choke, Sherry Baby, World Trade Center) is Denim, the supervisor for a residential facility housing 15 kids who are all affected by child abuse and neglect in unimaginable ways. Inside the gates of Short Term 12, awols and fights and restraints happen every day and Denim knows how to respond. But as his personal life collides with work, he begins to realize that he is no better off than the kids he's trying to help.
Shot entirely on location at the MacLaren Children’s Center in Los Angeles, the film places viewers within the walls of a real facility and lets them feel what it’s like to live and work in a place where hope is often difficult to find. An all-star ensemble cast radiates in this gritty and honest look at how human beings, no matter the age, inevitably impact each other.
As I said to Destin and Michelle before we interviewed them here @ Windrider, the film really "messed me up." It is powerful and very well done. Not the usual cinema fare for 10am in the morning – but one well worth seeing. And further proof of the good things coming out of relationships expanded by Windrider.
Last night we watched the troubling, but very well done, Sin Nombre. The first feature from Cary Joji Fukunaga, a Bay-area man of Japanese/Swedish heritage, the film is the story of Honduran illegal immigration to the US, the gangs that feed off it and love and amongst the pain and violence. Told entirely in Spanish, with sub-titles, the film is a violent but realistic portrayal of lives hunger for the promise of the American dream – one that they are willing to die for in an effort to achieve it. It is a good film and worth seeing. I especially appreciate the photo-journalistic shooting style of Fukunaga – no shakycam, no bleached colour effects.
This afternoon we watched the lighter fare offered by Arlen Faber. The film stars Jeff Daniels and is the story of a man who creates an industry around his book, God and Me. Funny with some level of spiritual insight, the movie has some great lines. Daniels co-star, Lauren Graham is winsome in her part as Arlen's love interest though her casting seems to be a variation on a theme of her Gilmore Girl's role. I wouldn't rush to the cinema to see it, but I would definitely watch it on cable.
I'll update you with more Windrider and Sundance information in the next day or so. It's good to be here but I do look forward to being back in Toronto and back to regular blogging.