Sundance 08: First Impressions

Thanks for visiting our new site. I’m thrilled and honored to be writing for Hammer to Nail. For those of you who read my blog, I think it’s obvious that I’m a person who loves movies. Some of you might even think that I love everything, because a large portion of my posts are filled with perhaps embarrassingly verbose positivity. But that is a very conscious decision on my part. Being a filmmaker myself, I am sensitive to negative criticism that doesn’t do anything except suffocate what little life some of these tiny films may have left in them. And that is what’s so exciting about Hammer to Nail. We’re here to celebrate and champion films that might otherwise go ignored in such a crowded, fiscally-focused market place. Of course, if a film/genre deserves to be attacked, we won’t pull any punches (see Mike Ryan’s sharp post below). But my main objective is to write enthusiastically about films that transcend their superficial limitations and become something truly extraordinary. Which brings us to the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

After a day-and-a-half of press screenings, I was feeling very skeptical. I saw some okay work that I could (and hopefully will) write about, but I didn’t see anything that genuinely thrilled me. I thought I would come here and be wowed from the very beginning, bumping into visionary cinema around every corner. In a strange way (for the no-budget director in me especially) it was inspiring to see things that felt like something I would see at any podunk regional festival in middle America. The pleasant realization that Nate Meyer’s Pretty in the Face was a far more accomplished, exhilarating and impressive work than an entry I watched from this year’s dramatic competition (not to mention Jeff Nichols’ Shotgun Stories–how did that film not get into this festival??? Shame on you people!!!). But I’m not here to have those realizations. I’m here to see work that thrills, challenges, and inspires me, and to let all of you know about it. Waking up this morning, I can finally say that I have finally been wowed and electrified and I am ready to start writing.

Last night’s double-feature of Ballast and The Order of Myths has officially got my Sundance ball rolling. I want to do Ballast the justice that it deserves (as well as The Order of Myths, unless Mike chooses to write about it), so I’m not going to write further about it now, but I just wanted to introduce myself and confirm that yes, indeed, there will be reviews to come. For now, there are more movies to watch. Thanks for reading, and keep checking back for more updates!

— Michael Tully

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