The seemingly endless film programme brochures don’t help too much, since they usually praise the virtues of pictures that turn out to be disappointing and plainly describe those which in the end walk away as festival champs.
With the benefit of hindsight it seems obvious which films you should have seen, but in practice you need a stroke of luck and a saint’s patience to catch the right ones.
The Sundance Film Festival is no exception.
Back in January, we arrived to the Festival with our (previously booked and paid) advance tickets like good kids with their books on the first school day, but festival fever is infectious and we soon discovered that whole new world festival organizers have created for movie stragglers: the wait-list tickets.
The system is simple but painfully illogical. You’re supposed to arrive roughly two hours before the screening time and then you receive a wait-list number which, of course, doesn’t guarantee tickets will be available.
Then you have to return no later than 30 minutes prior to the screening and line up (again, and in Sundance at freezing temperatures) according to number. The wait-list tickets sale begins no sooner than 30 minutes prior to the screening.
Why they don’t sell the tickets directly (according to that universally agreed system of first come, first serve) when you first line up still mystifies me, or maybe I’m just in denial about the fact that they prefer ordinary people to wait, lest important people wish to see a given film in the last moment.
Anyhow, I cannot say that we didn’t anticipate which film would be the one to see, since buzz about Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone started to spread in Park City from the first screening.
We diligently queued up to get our wait-list number and then we queued up again to see if we could get our tickets, but after a distressing 45 minutes wait, they literally ran out of tickets one guy before us.
So, although we foresaw the good stuff, we still missed the film that ultimately won the Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic Film (in other words, the big one) and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award.
The buzz about the film has been building up since Sundance and it might well be one of the films of the year. Director and screenwriter Debra Granik seems to have made a terrific thriller about family ties and rumour has it that Jennifer Lawrence delivers a powerful performance. Although she was oddly awarded the Marcelo Mastroiani Award at the Venice Film Festival some years ago for her role in The Burning Plain, Winter’s Bone could be her big breakthrough. She’s a beautiful, deglamed young actress in a small, critically acclaimed film. It sounds like Oscar nomination to me.
The film will be presented in the Deauville Film Festival in September and will be commercially released in France on November 3, so I guess it will be by then that we’ll all be able to enjoy it.
I can’t wait (any more!!!) to see it.
Here’s the trailer.