20,000 Days on Earth filmmakers Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard at Daily Buzz. Photo by Brian Brooks.
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Sundance awards its winners tonight, while Daily Buzz continues this weekend from the festival. In our 9th Episode, Film Society’s Eugene Hernandez speaks with World Cinema Documentary Competition filmmakers Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard about their Nick Cave feature 20,000 Days on Earth. And the episode recalls some of the highlights of the past week’s show from Park City.
20,000 Days on Earth
The drama/documentary features musician Nick Cave as both subject and co-conspirator, exploring his artistic process and combining it with a fictional staged narration of his 20,000th day on Earth. “One thing we realized is that it’s an incredibly hard film to explain, but it’s incredibly easy to watch,” co-director Iain Forsyth told Daily Buzz. “There’s [both] hybrid documentary and psycho-drama.”
The film, according to Sundance, weaves two parallel narrative threads, showing a cinematic portrait of his 20K day alive seen through a staged, but not scripted, scenes and encounters. The second looks in depth at his creativity from writing, recording and rehearsal to performance. Added fellow director Jane Pollard: “We were moved and impressed and inspired by seeing one of our world’s best musicians who is so disciplined and works so hard. And even though he’s great, he aspires to be better.”
Todd Miller has been making film and shorts for over a decade. This year, his Dinosaur 13 will have its World Premiere in competition, chronicling an unprecedented saga in American history, detailing a fierce battle to possess a treasure from ancient history, a 65 million year-old dinosaur. It is, however, unique among most because it is considered the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever found.
Life Itself filmmaker Steve James at Daily Buzz. Photo by Brian Brooks.
Life Itself looks at the story and challenges faced by maverick critic Roger Ebert, based on his memoirs Life Itself. Filmmaker Steve James uncovers the snags and strains hidden under Ebert’s prominence including his battle with alcohol, his well-known conflicts with fellow critic Gene Siskel. Ebert bridged high and low culture, defending film as a populist medium even as he championed films that challenged mainstream aesthetics and expectations.
Filmmakers Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz first met at North Carolina School of the Arts. They had festival success with separate films after graduating, including Stephens’ Pilgrim Song and Katz’s Quiet City. The two collaborated on Land Ho!, which is premiering in the festival’s NEXT section. “Aaron and I went to film school together and we decided to do something together that is different for us, which in this case is a comedy,” said Stevens on The Daily Buzz. “The idea of doing something in Iceland just seemed like a great time,” added Katz. Land Ho! follows a pair of former brother-in-laws who take a trip to Iceland in an attempt to reclaim their youth. Added Katz: “Their lives were full of children and work and these are things they don’t have anymore.”
Ping Pong Summer
Michael Tully is a returning filmmaker at this year’s Sundance, debuting his latest Ping Pong Summer with Susan Sarandon at the festival. Set in 1985, the film is a love letter to the coming-of-age comedy set squarely in the decade when hip hop was born. “It sounds generic, a shy 13 year-old boy in 1985 goes to Ocean City, MD with his parents and falls in love with a girl,” Tully told The Daily Buzz. Though Tully has a few films under his belt including 2011’s Septien, which premiered at Sundance, he nevertheless landed a titan of the big screen, Susan Sarandon for his feature. “Are there any other Oscar-winning actresses that owns a ping-pong club?” asked Tully, referring to Sarandon’s stake in a popular ping pong venue in Manhattan.
“I reached out to Jay Duplass, who is a friend, and asked if she was cool. Honestly I’d rather make a mediocre film with great people than a good one with a bunch of assholes. The calling card for me was Septien. She dug it and thought it was funny and cool and she took the plunge.”