Dispatch from Sundance: And the (Oscar) Winners Are…

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Sunday night, during the closing ceremonies in Park City, Utah, the 2007 Sundance Film Festival winners were announced. I wasn’t there, four days at Sundance was plenty for me, but the onslaught of emails from the press office were evidence enough. But I wonder, does anyone really care about which film won the Special Jury Prize or the World Cinema Audience Award? It seems all anyone is talking about is how “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Iraq in Fragments” (read Mother Jones‘ review of the film here) and “An Inconvenient Truth” raked in the Oscar nominations last week.

Sundance tends to be repetitious in its subject matter. This year, “No End In Sight” will surely give you your Iraq fill, “Everything’s Cool” contains a deluge of information on Global Warming and “Blame It On Fidel,” much like “Little Miss Sunshine” tells the story of a young girl shaped by her society. But really, would the festival be complete without a film on Iraq or Global Warming?

“No End In Sight” is the product of over 75 interviews with the war’s key players (read my blog post on a panel discussion I attended for the film and stay tuned for a Mother Jones review coming soon). With appearances by General Jay Garner, New Yorker columnist, George Packer and State Department veteran, Barbara Bodine, this politically heavy doc weaves the story, through images and first-hand accounts, of the blatant incompetence on the part of our administration. I think this film will act as a historical archive of the war for decades to come. “Everything’s Cool,” as the title indicates, documents the administration’s denial that climate change exists and their dirty tactics to make sure that scientists weren’t able to prove it did. In this very funny film, Daniel Gold and Judith Helfand follow global warming prophets, journalist, Ross Gelbspan, Mother Jones writer, Bill McKibben and the “Bad Boys of Environmentalism” throughout their mission to turn back the clock on the widening gap between the reality of climate change and the public’s perception. “No End In Sight” and “Everything’s Cool” were definitely the two most prescient films of the year, but make sure to look for the releases of “Manda Bala,” a tale of the harsh realities of life in Sao Paulo and “Enemies of Happiness,” which follows the campaign of Malalai Joya, a female member of Afghanistan’s parliament.

For what it’s worth, “Manda Bala” won the Grand Jury Prize and “Enemies of Happiness,” the World Cinema Jury Prize. Maybe an Oscar is in these film’s futures too.

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