“True Story” Surprises at Sundance Film Festival


Photo Courtesy of Angela George, Wikimedia

The 2015 Sundance Film Festival took place from Jan. 22 to Feb. 1 in Park City, Utah. The annual festival is one of the largest independent film festivals in the United States. It is a showcase for national and international independent filmmakers to present their work.

Sundance is about much more than awards, it is an experience. The program consists of dramatic and documentary films, performances, shorts, installations, New Frontier films, dynamic music events and panel discussions. Throughout the years, Sundance has given the opportunity for authentic films and storytellers to be recognized.

The festival in its entirety lasts 10 days and brings state of the art storytellers and adventurous viewers together to celebrate top-notch artists of independent filmmaking. The small mountain area in Utah where it is held features 17 theaters in which to view the films and house other workshops. Some festival goers attend such workshops while others explore Park City, Ogden, Salt Lake City and the Sundance Mountain Resort.

For the awards, “Me & Earl & the Dying Girl” won the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Dramatic Prize and U.S Dramatic Audience Award, making the Alfonso Gomez-Rejon film the big winner of the event.

The film almost became Sundance’s highest priced sale in the history of the festival and is assumed to do extremely well in the box offices. The film revolves around an awkward, antisocial high school senior, Greg Gaines. Greg has a friend, Earl, with whom he remakes versions of classic films, until his mother forces him to become friends with a classmate, Rachel, who has leukemia. Not so surprisingly, Greg and Rachel end up falling for each other and become inseparable, but Rachel continues to grow ill, changing Greg's life forever.

“I am Michael” was one of the biggest letdowns of the festival, while “True Story” distinguised itself as one to look forward to. The former tells the story of Micheal Glatze (James Franco), a queer gay rights advocate who renounces his homosexuality, leaving those who know him shocked. Most viewers, however, already knew “I Am Michael” would be a letdown.

On the other hand, “True Story,” which is in fact a true story, seems to be promising. Jobless journalist Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) gets fired from his job at The New York Times Magazine, causing him to fall into a deep depression. When someone in Mexico claims his identity and murders his family, he goes to interview the accused man, Christian Longo (Franco), to save his name.

Some notable winners at Sundance included Robert Eggers, director of “The Witch,” who took home the U.S. Directing Award for Drama, “Cartel Land” directed by Matthew Heineman, which landed the U.S. Directing Award for Documentary and Crystal Mosell, whose film “The Wolfpack” snagged the U.S. Grand Jury Prize.