Monday, 4 July 2011

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The 2011 Sundance Film Festival has barely begun, and I’m already sensing a trend. Maybe it’s not a big one and maybe it won’t be consistent. Probably it’s all in my head, inspired by my feelings about covering the event for the first time in six years (and really the first time as a legitimate press professional—last time it was for a zine). But here it is: a nostalgia for the pre-Internet era/criticism of Internet dependency. It is not surprising but it’s also pretty appropriate that more than one outlet has already accidentally used a still (the one above) from Matthew Lessner’s “The Woods” in a write up of Miranda July’s “The Future,” since they both are about people who attempt to live without the net. Also, I guess it’s easy to confuse the titles when the latter is written out fully on the Sundance press page as “The Woods (or The Future is Golden).”

Neither film is set in the past, so the nostalgia is not so much a literal reach to that time (though “The Woods” features a moment entailing all-‘90s karaoke, including Spin Doctors and Counting Crows)—more like either a yearning to go back to the time before the web infiltrated (and ruined?) every facet of life or a desire to move forward with a return to that era’s sensibilities. In my preview of this year’s documentary selections, I speculate that “Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times” will also evoke the memories of a pre-digital time. Meanwhile, a history of an analog meme and how it (favorably?) compares to modern viral sensations figures into the amusing doc “Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure.”

I’m particularly fond of the ‘90s recall, whether it’s truly there or not. Fittingly, as Cinematical’s Erik Davis noted, the fact that religious groups are protesting a Kevin Smith movie (this time “Red State”) definitely feels like the later part of the decade. But mostly I’m thinking of the period in which I became interested in Sundance and indie film in general. When I had to wait for print issues of Entertainment Weekly and (better/later) Film Threat to find out what was good, and what I therefore wanted to look for in time—a long time, usually, because I lived in the suburbs and had to wait for the VHS rentals to hit Blockbuster.

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