As everyone involved in the independent film industry knows, the Sundance Film Festival is going on in Park City, Utah as we speak. Sundance is a showcase for new works from filmmakers all over the world and has brought attention to modern-day cinematic classics as Reservoir Dogs, Little Miss Sunshine, Clerks and Napolean Dynamite as well as launching the careers of Quentin Tarantino, Jim Jarmusch and Steven Soderbergh. While Sundance was once the destination for small-budget, independent films and filmmakers, it has become a media extravaganza complete with Hollywood celebrities, paparazzi and corporate-sponsored luxury lounges.
This is why, in 1995, a group of filmmakers who weren’t accepted into Sundance decided to start the Slamdance Film Festival. Their goal was to showcase “a truer representation of independent filmmaking” and to give new and emerging talent a venue to show their works. Slamdance is the only major film festival fully programmed by filmmakers; fittingly, their mantra is “By Filmmakers For Filmmakers.” It has become a year-round organization that helps unique and innovative filmmakers get more exposure and now consists of not only the film festival, but a Screenplay and Teleplay Competition and Slamdance Studios.
Slamdance takes place in Park City, Utah right alongside Sundance, and we are so honored that they’ve decided to use Brown Paper Tickets to ticket some of their screenings. There are still a few tickets available for some screenings happening later this week at the Gallery Screening Room at the Treasure Mountain Inn, so if you’re attending Sundance, why not escape the hype and glitz of Sundance and experience some real independent cinema.
Here are our picks for tomorrow, Wednesday, January 25:
I Want My Name Back – Whatever happened to the Sugarhill Gang? “I Want My Name Back” highlights the rise and fall of former original members, Master Gee and Wonder Mike, creative leaders of the group that recorded the biggest selling Hip Hop single of all time, “Rapper’s Delight.” The Sugarhill Gang are widely credited with introducing the world to Hip Hop music in 1979. We go back in time with Master Gee and Wonder Mike as they recreate the beginning of commercial Hip Hop. We follow their story as they tour the world and follow up with songs like “Apache” and “8th Wonder.” And then one day in 1984 it’s gone: the money, fame and more interesting in this case, their names. They lost their identity and legacy as ruthless forces in the record industry tried to exploit and destroy them. Thirty years after their historic recording, Master Gee and Wonder Mike come back to reclaim their names.
Kelly – At the age of sixteen, transgender adolescent Kelly Van Ryan left her rural origins in search of proverbial Hollywood fame and fortune. She arrived on the West Coast accompanied only by a childhood friend and a long-harbored desire for love and acceptance. Without a proper support network, Kelly was quickly thrust into a survival struggle that often typifies the quest for stardom in Los Angeles. Financial and personal frustrations eventually led to prostitution and drug abuse. “Kelly” follows our protagonist as she confronts legal charges for drugs and prostitution, dwindling financial resources and clientele, and eventually homelessness. She revisits her hometown at the climax of her Hollywood misfortune, and must face the life and family she left behind. Through her travails, we see the tremendous, and tragically misguided lengths to which one will go to escape intolerance and pain.
Made in Iran: 7 Short Premieres – Seven short films from Iran, including:
Dances with the Armchair (Dariush Nehdaran) In this video, the armchair and fire are pigments creating shapes and forms that at times resemble the faces that once sat on the armchair. As the chair burns down, the faces dance and prepare it for its death.
Far From Him, Towards Him (Javad Rezaei Monfared) A 35-year-old man with a terminal disease wants to reconcile with his father who cut him off years ago. He learns his father is a servant at a holy shrine in the religious city of Qum. Once near the shrine, he is unable to see it and faces new challenges.
Room No. 8 (Zohreh Keshavarz Motlagh) Humans are imprisoned in the confines of their minds. Restless and drowned in everyday routines, they await a savior or leader to guide them to a better life. Eventually, one of their own breaks free of the cage and the rest, inspired by him, free themselves from empty thoughts and repetitive lifestyles.
Pondering (Mohammad Hossein Keshavarz Motlagh Shirazi) Once upon a time, in a clear night where moonlight was shining, there was an inner child who went wandering around with outer self. The street had blue pavements and the air was crisp.
A Pore as Big as a Knuckle (Ali Ahmadi) This film examines how people in Iran inevitably give in to a life of tension and conflict without much choice.
The Tree (Hamed Siami) A studio photographer loses the ability to associate people with their pictures.
When The Kid Was a Kid (Anahita Ghazvinizadeh) Taha, a ten year old, is involved in a play in which children imitate their parents’ roles. Living with his divorced mother, Taha understands new things about her mom by playing her role.