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AT SUNDANCE

USA, 1995 (MIFF 1996, Documenta)

Director: Michael Almereyda, Amy Hobby

American New Wave originals, Robert Almereyda (Girl from Another Planet. Nadja] and Amy Hobby take their obsession with the toy. Fischer Price pixelvision camera to the Sundance Film Festival. Turning it on the directors. producers, writers and actors they corner there. they transform a talking-heads documentary into a dreamy, insouciant dissection of Hollywood verses 'indie' attitude, power personalities and the very nature of cinema.

Starting with the founder of the Sundance Institute, Robert Redford, each luminary this marauding guerilla-doc-duo capture are asked the same question, "What are your feelings about the future of movies—are you optimistic or pessimistic?". A seemingly innocent query unleashes an avalanche of bile, bitterness, benign hope or just plain self-promotion. The way the various Who's Who of the Sundance circus interpret the question is just as revealing as what they have to say; the insights, in-fights and in-jokes fly thick and fast.

Conversations run the gamut from the aggressive, with in-your-face Abel Ferrara (The Addiction) threatening to burn his film, to the confessional, actor/director John Turturro (Mac) on the made to impress rather than effect' syndrome. There are the believers; Atom Egoyan (Exotica) feels cinema changed the way we dream, and the questioning. Todd Haynes (Safe) doubts audiences are excited by the challenges of unresolved narratives. Then there are the surprises; Larry Gross (3:15. and writer of 48 Hours) a pessimist of the intellect but an optimist of the will, bemoans the cultural impoverishment of new technology and actor Ethan Hawke (Straight to One) goes on record about his hatred of Disney Executives (the legacy of White Fang), quotes Truffaut and looks to Casavettes for inspiration

The plastic lens of pixelvision proves the perfect prying eye for this refracted universe of ego and inspiration, (AH)

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