Park City, UTAH — DOUBLE CHAI, BABY! The 36th Annual Sundance Film Festival ascended to Park City, and screened over 125, mostly independent, films and projects over its 10 days. The festival has evolved since I first came in 2000 for SCHMOOZEDANCE! An amazing synagogue building is now in Park City with an active, powerful congregation. Netflix and Amazon amd streaming services now domante the market scene. And brands and their parties are more active than ever, even if they were a bit subdued this year.

But the indie film themes remain the same…. dark. haha

Kim Yutani, the programmer for the festival, said tha tthe fest focused on initiatives of inclusion and diversity, and selected 128 feature films: 79 narrative features and 49 documentary features. Plus there are many shorts. “Thematically, there are some through-lines: families, both biological and chosen; the concept of home (and its limitations); and the power of passionate individuals to make real change in the world. But each work that tackles those concepts does so in a wildly individual way, which is a core tenet of the festival,” Yutani explained. Speaking of diversity and gender parity, out of the 90 directors of the 66 films in the five competition categories, 40% are women, 40% are people of color and 9% are LGBTQ+… (and some are all three). In the US Documentary Competition, 45% are women; 23% are people of color; and 23% are LGBTQ+.

Yes, yes.. lot’s of inclusion….
But if you are looking for a film from Israel…
you would be better off heading to the Berlin Fest in February,
which will feature SPEER GOES TO HOLLYWOOD, an Israeli production.

The festival skipped its annual kickoff press conference with Robert Redford, and instead posted some online reports.

Mr. Redford, whose grandson has a film premiering in Park City this week, praised the power of indie films. “Writers, directors, actors, critics, volunteers, patrons of the arts — we all file into the theaters here at the Sundance Film Festival as individuals, our minds preoccupied by the things we have going on in our day-to-day lives and our concerns about the wider world we live in. But something magical happens when the lights finally dim, the chatter quiets down, the phones go dark and the curtain opens. From the moment the images begin to flicker across the screens before us, we become one, experiencing for the very first time the deeply personal visions of uncompromising independent creators from all walks of life. It is our great joy and privilege to help deliver these thought-provoking stories out into the world over the next 10 days, and we hope you will join us in continuing the important conversations they spark in the year ahead.”

Keri Putnam, executive director of the festival, mentioned the political scene, saying, “As we head into an election year, freedom of the press, and freedom of expression more broadly, are facing very serious threats in the U.S. and around the world. And when it comes to media and storytelling, audiences have seemingly infinite choices in what they consume. And there is a lot of great work getting made. But increasingly, content is being selected by only a handful of globally dominant entities and served up by algorithms designed to keep you watching. So when choices about what to watch are made for people by forces that aren’t always visible and can’t be controlled, not only do we miss out on challenging ideas and great art — it’s dangerous. This is a moment that demands our participation — as audiences, as artists and as citizens. This is a critical time for each of us to question why things are the way they are. To ask whose voices are being marginalized and why. To notice whose perspectives we aren’t seeing and why not. And to recognize that media has worth far beyond its market value or what it makes at the box office.”

And to recognize that media has worth far beyond its market value or what it makes at the box office.”

In the link below, havdalah was held at the SHABBAT LOUGE at SUNDANCE

Shabbat lounge during Sundance

Posted by Rabbi Yonah on Saturday, January 25, 2020

SOME OF THE FILMS most attractuve the readers of Jewlicious are:

HILLARY. a four-hour docu-series about Hillary Clinton. The former first lady, Secretary of State and first woman presidential nominee from a major political party sat down for 35 hours of interviews with director Nanette Burstein, who also poured through exclusive footage from the 2016 campaign and additional sit downs with Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Barack Obama and more. In the series, Clinton, sadly, scorches the earth and shows her deep seated anger, and has nasty words for her oppenent Bernie Sanders. She told Variety that the interview in which she criticized Sanders was done a year and a half ago, and she “wasn’t thinking about the election by any means.” Yet she added that, “I do think it’s important to look at somebody’s record and look at what they’ve gotten done and see whether you agree with that or not. I think that’s what every voter paying attention should do.” She just can’t let it rest. The series will premiere on March 6 on Hulu.

Crip Camp / U.S.A. (Directors: Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht, Producers: Sara Bolder, Jim LeBrecht, Nicole Newnham) — Down the road from Woodstock in the early 1970s, a revolution blossomed in a ramshackle summer camp for disabled teenagers, transforming their young lives and igniting a landmark movement. World Premiere.

Feels Good Man / U.S.A. (Director: Arthur Jones, Producers: Giorgio Angelini, Caryn Capotosto, Aaron Wickenden) — When indie comic character Pepe the Frog becomes an unwitting icon of hate, his creator, artist Matt Furie, fights to bring Pepe back from the darkness and navigate America’s cultural divide. World Premiere

The Fight / U.S.A. (Directors: Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, Eli Despres, Producers: Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, Eli Despres, Maya Seidler, Peggy Drexler, Kerry Washington) — Inside the ACLU, a team of scrappy lawyers battle Trump’s historic assault on civil liberties. As the president separates families, blocks abortion access, expels transgender soldiers, and rolls back voting rights, these gutsy attorneys struggle to stop an unpredictable adversary with unlimited resources. World Premiere

Us Kids / U.S.A. (Director: Kim A. Snyder, Producers: Kim A. Snyder, Maria Cuomo Cole, Lori Cheatle) — Determined to turn unfathomable tragedy into action, the teenage survivors of Parkland, Florida catalyze a powerful, unprecedented youth movement that spreads with lightning speed across the country, as a generation of mobilized youth take back democracy in this powerful coming-of-age story. World Premiere

Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness / Iran, France, Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg (Director and screenwriter: Massoud Bakhshi, Producers: Jacques Bidou, Marianne Dumoulin) — Maryam accidentally killed her husband Nasser and is sentenced to death. The only person who can save her is Mona, Nasser’s daughter. All Mona has to do is appear on a TV show and forgive Maryam. But forgiveness proves difficult when they are forced to relive the past. Cast: Sadaf Asgari, Behnaz Jafari, Babak Karimi, Fereshteh Sadr Orafaee, Forough Ghajebeglou, Fereshteh Hosseini. International Premiere

Saudi Runaway / Switzerland (Director and screenwriter: Susanne Regina Meures, Producer: Christian Frei) — “A”, a young, fearless woman from Saudi Arabia, is tired of being controlled by the state and patronized by her family. With an arranged marriage imminent, a life without rights and free will seems inevitable. “A” decides to escape. An unprecedented view inside a repressive patriarchy. World Premiere

The Truffle Hunters / Italy, U.S.A., Greece (Directors: Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw, Producers: Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw) — In the secret forests of Northern Italy, a dwindling group of joyful old men and their faithful dogs search for the world’s most expensive ingredient, the white Alba truffle. Their stories form a real-life fairy tale that celebrates human passion in a fragile land that seems forgotten in time. World Premiere


I Carry You With Me / U.S.A., Mexico (Director: Heidi Ewing, Screenwriters: Heidi Ewing, Alan Page Arriaga, Producers: Mynette Louie, Heidi Ewing) — An epic love story spanning decades is sparked by a chance encounter between two men in provincial Mexico. Based on a true story, ambition and societal pressure propel an aspiring chef to leave his soulmate and make the treacherous journey to New York, where life will never be the same. Cast: Armando Espitia, Christian Vázquez, Michelle Rodríguez, Ángeles Cruz, Arcelia Ramírez, Michelle González. World Premiere

Some Kind of Heaven / U.S.A. (Director: Lance Oppenheim, Producers: Darren Aronofsky, Kathleen Lingo, Melissa Oppenheim Lano, Pacho Velez, Jeffrey Soros, Simon Horsman) — Behind the gates of a palm tree-lined fantasyland, four residents of America’s largest retirement community, The Villages, FL, strive to find happiness and meaning. World Premiere

Downhill / U.S.A. (Directors: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, Screenwriters: Jesse Armstrong, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, Producers: Anthony Bregman, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Stefanie Azpiazu, Erik Hemmendorff, Ruben Östlund) Barely escaping an avalanche during a family ski vacation in the Alps, a married couple is thrown into disarray as they are forced to reevaluate their lives and how they feel about each other. Cast: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Will Ferrell, Zach Woods, Zoë Chao, Miranda Otto. World Premiere

The Glorias / U.S.A. (Director: Julie Taymor, Screenwriters: Julie Taymor, Sarah Ruhl, Producers: Alex Saks, Lynn Hendee) — An equal rights crusader, journalist and activist: Gloria Steinem embodies these and more. From her role in the revolutionary women’s rights movement to her travels throughout the U.S. and around the world, Steinem has made an everlasting mark on modern history. A nontraditional chronicle of a trailblazing life. Cast: Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, Bette Midler, Janelle Monae, Timothy Hutton, Lorraine Toussaint. World Premiere

Tesla / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michael Almereyda, Producers: Avi Lerner, Jeffery Greenstein, Uri Singer, Christa Campbell, Lati Grobman, Isen Robbins) — Highlighting the Promethean struggles of Nikola Tesla, as he attempts to transcend entrenched technology–including his own previous work–by pioneering a system of wireless energy that will change the world. Cast: Ethan Hawke, Kyle Maclachlan, Eve Hewson, Jim Gaffigan, Hannah Gross, Josh Hamilton. World Premiere. Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize

Worth / U.S.A. (Director: Sara Colangelo, Screenwriter: Max Borenstein) — Kenneth Feinberg, a powerful D.C. lawyer appointed Special Master of the 9/11 Fund, fights off the cynicism, bureaucracy, and politics associated with administering government funds and, in doing so, discovers what life is worth. Based on true events. Cast: Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci, Amy Ryan, Tate Donovan, Talia Balsam, Laura Benanti. World Premiere

Aggie / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Catherine Gund, Producers: Catherine Gund, Tanya Selvaratnam) — An exploration of the nexus of art, race, and justice through the story of art collector and philanthropist Agnes Gund who sold Roy Lichtenstein’s painting “Masterpiece” in 2017 for $165 million to start the Art for Justice Fund to end mass incarceration. Cast: Agnes Gund, Darren Walker, Ava DuVernay, Thelma Golden, John Waters, Glenn Ligon. World Premiere

The Dissident / U.S.A. (Director: Bryan Fogel, Screenwriters: Mark Monroe, Bryan Fogel, Producers: Bryan Fogel, Jake Swantko, Mark Monroe, Thor Halvorssen) — When Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappears after entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, his fiancée and dissidents around the world are left to piece together the clues to a brutal murder and expose a global cover up perpetrated by the very country he loved. World Premiere

Taylor Swift: Miss Americana / U.S.A. (Director: Lana Wilson, Producers: Morgan Neville, Caitrin Rogers, Christine O’Malley) — A raw and emotionally revealing look at one of the most iconic artists of our time during a transformational period in her life as she learns to embrace her role not only as a songwriter and performer, but as a woman harnessing the full power of her voice. Cast: Taylor Swift. World Premiere.

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