Tonight, for the first time I can remember, I feel out of place in the country I was born into and the citizenship I’ve loved my whole life. For weeks I’ve watched with sadness as our civil servants have failed us, turning toward bigotry, mean-spiritedness, and mockery as the now-normal tools of the trade.
How can we expect the next generation to step up and serve, to be interested in public life, and to aspire to get involved when all we show them is how to spar, attack, and destroy each other?
It’s hard to blame young people for calling us out, and pointing to our conflicts between the values we declare, and those we stand behind only when it’s convenient to partisanship. Many people are rightly calling it a damn mess.
But I want to encourage you to dig deep for hope and civility right now—to try to make connections with people you disagree with, to be better than our politicians.
We don’t have to share the same motivations to want the same outcomes. Let’s focus on each other, and strengthening our communities, and reflecting on what’s happening. Let’s live in justice and respect and let others fight it out now to the bitter ends.
This is our country too. Every woman, man, and child in it, our American future.
Alfonso Cuaron’s latest diatribe of Mexican life, Roma, winner of the 74th Venice International Film Festival’s top prize, the Golden Lion, and favorite of the Chicago Film Critics Association, is on display at a theatre near you. While it is streaming on Netflix, its full flavor is best enjoyed in a theatrical experience where sounds abound, camera movements mesmerize, performances loom large and the mise-en-scene transports. I had the good fortune to view the cinematic treat at the new home of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), the Riviera Theatre, recently renamed the Lynda and Bruce’s Rivera Theatre in honor of SBIFF philanthropic benefactors, Lynda Weinman and husband, Bruce Heavin.
Set in Mexico City during the politically turbulent time of the 1970’s, Roma follows the life of a young servant, Celo, portrayed by first-time actress, Yalitza Aparicio. In homage to classical Italian Neo-Realism, Cuaron infuses Roma with elemental characteristics of Neo-Realism with his choice of a first-time, non-professional actress, a seemingly realistic setting and exhibits the film in black and white.
Yet, Roma, is a highly crafted, highly orchestrated work of art. Cuaron makes every shot count, every moment a well-conceived and executed thought brought to fruition enticing the viewer to suspend disbelief. Cuaron then, and only then, deftly adds a shot to remind the viewer that Roma is a film. That’s how masterful Cuaron has become with his filmmaking craft.
And, that’s not to take anything away from the film’s narrative. Highly autobiographical, Cuaron draws scenes from his memory and manages to wrap them around his central character, Celo, then slowly allows the layers to melt away leaving the viewer with an exaltation that must be seen and experienced to be believed. Highly recommended on a cinematic screen!
One of the year’s best films….if not the very best.
A RECORD-BREAKING 14,259 SUBMISSIONS FROM 152 COUNTRIES
For the 2019 Festival, slated to run January 24th through February 3rd, 2019, 112 feature-length films were selected from a record high of 14,259 submissions including 4,018 feature-length films, representing 33 countries and 45 first-time filmmakers. Of the feature film submissions, 1,767 were from the U.S. and 2,251 were international; 31% were directed by one or more women; 38% were directed by one or more filmmaker of color; 11% by one or more people who identify as LGBTQIA. 24 films are supported by Sundance Institute in development, whether through direct granting or residency Labs. In addition, 102 of the Festival’s feature films, or 91% of the lineup, will be world premieres.
The Sundance Film Festival is the premier showcase for U.S. and international independent film, held each January in and around Park City, Utah. Presenting dramatic and documentary feature-length films from emerging and established artists, innovative short films, filmmaker forums and panels, live music performances, cutting-edge media installations, and engaging community programs, the Festival is known for bringing together the most original storytellers of our time.
Robert Redford, pictured below, President and Founder of Sundance Institute, recently said this about storytellers,
“Society relies on storytellers.
The choices they make, and the risks they take, define our collective experience.
This year’s Festival is full of storytellers who offer challenges, questions and entertainment.
In telling their stories, they make difficult decisions in the pursuit of truth and art; culture reaps the reward.”
Supported by the non-profit Sundance Institute, the Sundance Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most ground-breaking films of the past two decades, including sex, lies, and videotape, Maria Full of Grace, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, An Inconvenient Truth, Trouble the Water, and Central Station and, through its New Frontier initiative, has brought the cinematic works of media artists including Isaac Julian, Doug Aitken, Pierre Huyghe, Jennifer Steinkamp, and Matthew Barney.
In 2018, the Festival drew 124,900 attendees from 49 U.S. states and 26 other countries, generated $191.6 million in economic activity for the state of Utah and supported 3,323 local jobs.
The 2020 Sundance Film Festival will take place January 23 – February 2, 2020.