The 2022 Sundance Film Festival fills the cinema bill

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CHICAGO – The 2022 Sundance Film Festival heads into day seven and features online events as well as films (see below). Like last year, the festival is virtual/online, meaning anyone/anywhere with a ticket or pass (link) can indulge in film offerings and events throughout the festival, which runs until January 30.

One of the flagship offers is free for everyone, without the need for tickets or additional credentials. Beyond Film’s lineup offers something for everyone…with filmmaker talks, meet-and-greets, and a daily talk show with festival director Tabitha Jackson. Festival stars and directors include Emma Thompson, Dakota Johnson, Amy Poehler and Eva Longoria Bastón. Click on BEYOND MOVIE for the archives and what is to come.

PalmSunFF
Palm trees and power lines
Photo credit: Sundance Film Festival

The Sundance Film Festival is an annual event organized by the Sundance Institute – an organization founded by actor Robert Redford in 1980 – and dedicated to the growth of independent artists. It usually takes place every January in Park City, Utah and other locations, and is the largest independent film festival in the United States. It includes competitive categories for documentary and drama films, feature films and short films, as well as out-of-competition categories for the presentation of new films.

StarMOVIES OF SUNDANCE: Opinions on the capsules

“Alice” – A film bizarre in approach, but hard on the themes, the story contrasts two eras of black American culture…the pre-Civil War plantation South and the funky 1973 at the end of the rights movement civics. Alice (Keke Palmer) is held captive in the slave quarters of the plantation, but longs for freedom. There are stories of strange visits to the land they work, including a man whose “hand creates fire” (a lighter). One night, Alice runs away and finds herself in 1973 America, where she is assimilated by Frank (Common), a nice truck driver. After being inspired, Alice seeks revenge. The choice of two eras is the film’s most interesting element, and its redeeming themes include Frank’s struggle with his civil rights past. However, the situation and revenge lacks context and doesn’t fully work. The highlight is Keke Palmer as the main character, creating the right amount of fear in her situation and using then-era muse Pam Grier/Coffy for her revenge model.

“The Janes” – In the third film at Sundance about a woman’s right to safety and health in abortion decisions, this documentary is a companion to the narrative feature “Call Jane”…both about Chicago’s Jane Collective from 1968 to 1973. The feminist group began making abortions safe and available to women underground, at a time when the procedure was illegal in Illinois (and most of America until ‘to Roe v Wade), through laws determined by the patriarchy. Using a male practitioner, then learning to abort themselves, the ancient “Janes” tell the story of a period for women’s health that now feels like the Stone Age…except when you look at repressive laws against women who perpetuate themselves AGAIN by the patriarchy. The question is who can get an abortion then and now… only those who can afford to travel away from states that make it illegal again or all women.

“Palm Trees and Power Lines” – The title refers to the lie of a seaside town where a teenager named Lea (Lily McInerny) is wasting away the summer before her senior year hanging out with disconnected “friends” and experiencing an unsatisfying pairing. Things change when a man twice her age (Jonathan Tucker) picks her up and begins a seduction process that includes a declaration of love. Circumstances begin to spin beyond Lea’s control as they grow closer as a couple. Disconnection is a theme of this film, uncomfortably. It’s a perfect storm of Lea who is bored and estranged from her friends, her unavailable mother (Gretchen Mol), and a manipulative stranger who inspires cries of “run away!” But this concept of a very real situation is more psychologically complicated and, combined with a more sexualized teenage society, creates more emotional vulnerability. A significant debut for writer/director Jamie Dack, adapting her own short film.

“Outbreak” – Part of Sundance Fest’s “Midnight” offerings, this is an incredible Finnish horror film that combines social/cultural commentary, creepy monster scares, and genre homages to the films that have it preceded. Tinja (Siiri Solanlinna) is a gymnast on the verge of adolescence in a family whose mother (Sophia Heikkilä) claims through social media that she is perfect. This “perfection” includes the ruthless killing of a black bird that infiltrates their home, and Tinja’s retrieval of the bird’s corpse leads her to an egg which she decides to hatch. A supernatural force merges Tinja’s psyche with the Hatchling, an evolving horror bird she names Alli, and her connection to the creature disrupts Perfect Life. What’s extraordinary about this film isn’t the creature elements – though there are several gore-and-gore creepy incidents associated with it – but the critique of modern family life, with all of the elements, including the father and brother (who dress up hilariously) being fired for the shining star of gym star Tinja. The bird creature is only a symptom of a larger disease, but certainly progresses the disease to an unexpected outcome. Another great feature debut from writer IIja Rautsi and director Hanna Bergholm.

Trailer for “Hatching”, theatrically released on April 29, 2022…

Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com will provide coverage of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival for the duration of the festival.

The 2022 Sundance Virtual Film Festival will take place from January 20-30. For tickets, schedule and all information, click on Festival.Sundance.org

© 2021 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com
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