Looking Back at Sundance 2014

By  January 28, 2014


Sundance has officially come to a close, and the tallies are in. During the week, 119 feature films were showcased—selected from a pool of 4,057 submissions. Not to mention a multitude of shorts. That’s a lot of film.

One of our must-see picks: Whiplash took top honors as the recipient of the U. S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic and Audience Award: U. S. Dramatic, which is no surprise after all the buzz surrounding the film. Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash made waves at last year’s festival as a short, and his alignment with Jason Reitman is proving to be a smart decision. It’s encouraging to see Sundance veterans helping to usher in the next generation of talent.

Rich Hill received the U. S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary for its intimate portrayal of the inhabitants of Rich Hill, Missouri, population 1,396. The film offers a unique window into the lives of the residents, particularly three teenagers named Andrew, Harley, and Appachey. Filmmakers Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo explore a situation facing many small towns in the U.S. It’s a telling story of making ends meet, showing that beyond the barriers, we all have similar desires: a comfortable home, decent food, and family and friends who love us.

Fishing Without Nets director Cutter Hodierne won the Directing Award: U. S. Dramatic for his take on Somali pirates, whose ranks have grown recently. When a young husband and father, Abdi, holds a French oil tanker for a ransom, he’s faced with difficult decisions. Abdi becomes friends with one of the hostages and must decide where he stands after some of the pirates resort to violence. Told from the unique perspective of the pirates, Fishing Without Nets humanizes a modern-day villain.

Of God and Dogs took home the Short Film Grand Jury Prize. It was directed by a collective of anonymous filmmakers who strive to provide an alternate image of Syrian society. Aside from the directors, the cast, screenwriters, and producer were all part of the collective and remain nameless. Of God and Dogs follows a free Syrian soldier who confesses to knowingly killing an innocent man.

Apart from the films, there were plenty of festivities in Park City. Oakley offered guests a unique opportunity to snowboard one-on-one with Olympic medalist and Grenade president Danny Kass. Park City put on a live concert series including Ludacris, O.A.R., Matisyahu, Kaskade, and Steve Aoki. Fans were treated to celebrity sightings at the Grey Goose Blue Door, the One Group lounge, and elsewhere. It was a great year on all fronts. If you’re planning a trip to Park City any time soon, our guides for where to stay and what to eat will help you enjoy the best that town has to offer. And be sure to look out for our upcoming South by Southwest guide featuring a behind-the-scenes look at Austin’s finest.


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