Jamie Zach’s Palm Trees and Power Lines, starring Jonathan Tucker and Lily McInerny made its World Premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival this week. The film is an adaptation of Zach’s 2017 short film of the same title.
What begins with an irascible state of condition for 17-year-old high school, party girl Lea, portrayed by Lily McInerny, ends with a state of affairs no one would want or imagine for their friend or child. Lea seems adrift and writer/director Jamie Dack while not pinpointing what has led Lea to her current state, drops hints. Meanwhile, the mounting, turbulent energy finds a vessel when thirty-four-year-old Tom rescues Lea from a teenage group dine and dash incident. Tom takes an interest in Lea, and Zack represents this with a powerful piece of camera work inside the dining establishment prior to the dine and dash incident.
Lea welcomes Tom’s attention and flattery as her high-school, hook-up boyfriend would rather find ways to condescend. Tom, portrayed by Jonathan Tucker, is a smooth operator. Within a short period of time, he has Lea isolated from her friends and her mother. Lea has no father figure in her life and Tom slithers into the role of father and Prince Charming. While imagining what is going on inside a grooming process is not readily accesible, Zach uses McInerny and Tucker to present a believable version with Tom prostituting Lea.
What unfolds may keep Zach’s work hidden outside the parameters of independent film and the festival circuit. Nevertheless, a well-told, cautionary tale by another fresh, nuanced voice from a writer/director reminiscent of Chloe Zhao and her 2021 Academy Award-winning work, Nomadland.
*This film contains sexual content that some viewers may find disturbing.
PARK CITY, UT (January 25, 2022) – After a surprise announcement yesterday, today’s sixth day of the Sundance Film Festival saw the debut of the mystery film, Navalny, on the very same day that Russia added the Putin critic and subject of the documentary, Alexei Navalny, to their ‘terrorist’ list. In conjunction with this explosive moment, today the United States denounced this act and called for his immediate release. Never before in the history of Sundance has a film’s real-life circumstances reverberated so strongly in the culture and conversation of the day.
Sundance Film Festival completed the sixth day of its online festival programming featuring conversations with Daniel Roher, John Early, Kogonada, Lisa Joy, Donald Elise Watkins, Lily McInerny, and was home to the World Premiere of Navalny on the very same day that Russia added Alexei Navalny to their terror list. Never before in the history of Sundance has a film and real-life circumstances been more timely.
Here’s background from Sundance’s BT –
In August 2020 while on a plane traveling from Siberia to Moscow, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with Novichok, a nerve agent implicated in attacks on other opponents of the Russian government.
Taken to a local Siberian hospital and eventually evacuated to Berlin, doctors confirmed that he had been poisoned with Novichok, a nerve agent implicated in attacks on other opponents of the Russian government. President Vladimir Putin immediately cast doubt on the findings and denied any involvement.
While recovering, Navalny and his team — already with a large social media following in tow — partnered with the data investigative journalism outlet Bellingcat as well as other international news organizations to investigate his attempted assassination and find proof of the Kremlin’s involvement. In NAVALNY, filmmaker Daniel Roher reveals a courageous and controversial would-be president at the precipice of sacrificing everything in order to bring reform to his homeland. —BT
Daniel Roher, director of Navalny, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
Check out these quotes from January 25th, 2022, Navalny panel (included below):
DANIEL ROHER (Director) on the best case scenario this film could have on Navalny’s release: “I want every single human being on the planet earth to know the name Alexei Navalny. I want that name to be associated with a grotesque injustice being perpetrated by the Russian state against a man who survived a murder attempt and then was arrested for merely surviving. I want there to be a global outrage and outcry because of Alexei’s detainment, and I want people to stop doing business with the Russians, and I want there to be reasonable expectations for Navalny’s release.”
CHRISTO GROZEV (subject/CEO Bellingcat) on how he wants the world to treat President Putin: “I want the whole world on a daily basis to be confronting President Putin and treating him in no way different than say the president of North Korea. This is not a civilized country, this is not a civilized establishment. Just think of the glaring irony that on the day of the release of the film that discloses how Alexei Navalny was poisoned by his government – his government branded him a terrorist. The people who are the terrorists brand him as a terrorist. This is something that should sink in and be remembered by as many people as possible on a daily basis.”
MARIA PEVCHIKH (Executive Producer) on making the film accessible to Russians: “We are doing everything possible, and then a little bit more on top of it, to make it accessible to the Russian audience because we are convinced that they deserve it more than anybody else.”
DASHA NAVALNY (Subject/Alexei’s Daughter) on how her family is doing: “we are doing good, considering everything. Our primary thinking with this movie coming out is that we want Alexei to be released. My dad is doing okay, but excited to see the movie if he ever gets to.”
Each year, Sundance serves as a cultural launchpad, helping to expand audience horizons through film and the conversations that occur the minute that credits roll. Continuing to foster this spirit of discussion into 2022, Sundance Film Festival programs a series of panels across discipline and topic to keep the conversation going.