There’s something special about taking part in a treasure hunt at the heart of a hidden gem of a festival. True/False Film Festival feels special because it’s so intimate, populated by cinephiles who love the underestimated and misunderstood genre of documentary features.
That so many of the films at the New York Film Festival this year focused on ugly and stressful subjects feels not like a demerit, but rather a catharsis—a healing that can only be done in a dark room, surrounded by others.
For any theoretical questions concerning how to Sundance, I was more concerned with the question of why to Sundance. And the answer is: access to a week of new sensation and perception in the doldrums of mid-winter.
As I walked up the steps to the Walter Reade theater, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of triumph, my first day back on campus. Everyone was there! In line, tired, clutching cheap coffee and festival badges. Some people got haircuts. Even the grumps were buzzing, happy to finally have some place to be.
There are worse ways to ride out the pandemic than mainlining some three dozen or so movies in a week, finding delights where you least expect them.
There were days where I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be able to sit with loved ones and share these first-time viewings in real time, and others when the combination of quarantine cabin fever and less-than-stellar runs of films made it seem like everything would be mediocre. A privilege and, 32 movies, shorts, and episodes later, a pile-up.
If there was any tangible loss in a virtual Sundance, it wasn’t the loss of celebrity sightings and frostbitten extremities; it was the loss of a shared narrative on what the week had provided.
Fran Hoepfner on Nomadland, Lovers Rock, Malmkrog, Undine, The Human Voice, The Truffle Hunters, Night of the Kings and more from this year's (remote) New York Film Festival.
I frequently took my mental temperature after this year’s Sundance screenings, searching for symptoms of that dreaded ailment, festival fever. I’ve fought mightily to maintain critical detachment, but it bears acknowledgement that the following assessments were made during one of the most emotionally tumultuous weeks I can remember.
There’s a question that has long been my personal riddle of the sphinx: what is “a Sundance movie”?
Fran Hoepfner on The Irishman, Uncut Gems, Marriage Story, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Parasite, First Cow, and other highlights (and not so highlights) from the New York Film Festival.
Our humble festival correspondent on Uncut Gems, Honey Boy, The Laundromat, Waves, The Report, No. 7 Cherry Lane, and the second half of TIFF 2019.