The View from Sundance

It’s Sundance time again! Even if you don’t follow the Utah film festival, each year movies emerge from Sundance and go on to become big hits. (Little Miss Sunshine immediately comes to mind.) I’m sure in a few months you’ll all be talking about Howl, The Runaways, or Company Men, which are all screening at Sundance.

What about us? Do we have any local horses in the race? Though I couldn’t find a single film with our area’s biggest indie film mainstay—Stanley Tucci—I scoured the program list and was able to find a few connections to our general area:

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Born Sweet
This is a short, 28-minute documentary about a young teen in Cambodia who has been poisoned by arsenic in the water—but, despite his sickness, he still harbors dreams of becoming a karaoke star. The film was directed by Cynthia Wade, who won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2007 for Freeheld, about a police officer with terminal cancer and her legal struggles to transfer her pension to her life partner. Though Wade recently traded in Brooklyn for Los Angeles, she’s a Croton native and graduated from Hendrick Hudson High School.

The Dry Land & Welcome to the Rileys
Looking further up the line, both these films feature consummate indie actress Melissa Leo, who hails from Stone Ridge, New York. (You may remember Leo from her Oscar-nominated performance in Frozen River, another Sundance film.) And man, does she get to use her trademark frown. In The Dry Land, Leo plays the mother of an Iraq veteran struggling to adjust back to his normal Texas life. Welcome to the Rileys isn’t any less bleak, being about a couple trying to get over the death of their teenage daughter.

This is another one of those peek-behind-the-curtains-of-the-idyllic-suburbs films we all know and love. Though I can’t find any confirmation that this is the New York suburb the film is about, any movie about any of the New York suburbs should have something we can all relate to. Well, most suburb-centered films should have something we can identify with—this one may be an exception. It’s about a successful insurance executive living in the ‘burbs while harboring a secret desire. No, he doesn’t want to have an affair—he wants to have his arms amputated, and he finally leaves his wife and heads into the city to try to find a surgeon to do it for him. That’s…not one we’ve heard before!

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