Sundance Film Festival is happening this week in beautiful, snowy Utah. The streets of the Park City festival center will be buzzing with filmheads, artists, industry folk, and eager volunteers.
Fancy Film is proud to have worked with not one but six Sundance films this year. Here’s the skinny on all of them. Starting with…
The Skinny is a Refinery29 original series produced by Jill Soloway and WifeyTV. All episodes are being premiered at Sundance on January 26th. They’ll be live on Refinery29 on January 27th. The series features Illeana Douglas, Spencer Hill, Ryan Pinkston, Megan Ferguson, Sadie Calvano, and Paul Dooley. Starring in it is creator Jessie Kahnweiler.
You may remember Jessie Kahnweiler from Meet My Rapist, another comedic tackle at a dark topic. The subject of eating disorders became her most recent project when confronting her own. “I’ve always been a television addict and relied on the screen to help me understand myself and the world around me,” wrote Kahnweiler. “But I never saw anything that resembled my f*****-up experience with food… We show sex, drugs, violence, and gang rapes on TV, but we don’t show eating disorders. This silence only reinforces the message that you’re the only one dealing with this problem, and you have to get better on your own.” So she wrote from a place of personal honesty to fill that gap and start making some noise. If you can’t tell yet, her personal introspection often leads to zany, offbeat, humorous films, and the whole audience benefits. After a successful crowd-funding campaign, The Skinny found its way to Fancy for color, sound, and delivery.
In the Special Events section, The Skinny’s web series format and viral star really make it stand out among the television and film picks. It beckons Sundance into the waves of Internet Ocean, where this generation fishes for their media. All metaphors aside, after the screening of all six episodes at Sundance, there will be a Q&A with Kahnweiler. (I have a feeling she’d be saying “Call me Jessie” during this whole blurb.)
The Bad Kids
The Bad Kids is the kind of documentary you would expect from Sundance Institute, in the best possible way. It expresses the voice of a marginalized community, at-risk teenagers sent to Black Rock Continuation High School, the “last stop” for those failing public school in Joshua Tree, CA. The school and its indomitable principal, Vonda Viland, were discovered on a smaller doc project by Keith Fulton and Lou Pepe, a team applauded for projects such as Lost in La Mancha, Brothers of the Head, Malkovich’s Mail, and Wizards of the Perfil, among others.
Through a cinema verité filming approach and intimate audio interviews, The Bad Kids follows three main characters: a teen parent, a young woman struggling with past sexual abuse, and an angry young man from an unstable home. The film also follows Principal Viland’s persistent and unique methods, which show positive progress. The Bad Kids digs deep into hopeless social issues in a very personal way, and it looks promisingly educational, illuminating, and inspiring.
Spa Night is Korean-American director Andrew Ahn’s first feature. Previously, his short film Dol premiered at Sundance 2012. Dol began his artistic connection with queer Korean-American identity, and Spa Night expands that expression into an intense, coming-of-age story set in the spas of Koreatown. Ahn was nurtured in the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab and the Film Independent Screenwriting and Directing Labs.
Written by two-time Sundance director James C. Strouse, directed by The Office cutie John Krasinski, and starring Krasinski alongside Anna Kendrick and Mary Elizabeth Winstead… Yep. Gotta see it.
Author: The JT Leroy Story
This documentary details the greatest recent literary hoax of JT LeRoy, supposed author of several books and enigmatic public persona – and, in reality, an avatar of musician and phone-sex operator Laura Albert. The film covers ten years of Albert not just publishing work as reclusive LeRoy, but creating a life full of facts, events, and appearances for him. It’s a bizarre rabbit hole that will be delightful to jump down.
James Franco plays a high school teacher enlisted for an impossible task: going back in time to prevent the Kennedy assassination. As you can imagine, there’s a pretty massive pushback from the space-time-fate complex itself. With executive producers J.J. Abrams and Stephen King, director Kevin Macdonald, and a stellar cast, the suspense may be too much to see only the pilot at Sundance. You’ll have to wait for the full miniseries release on February 15th.