Jury Coordination and Notes

Archive for January, 2018

Sundance Film Festival 2018 by Nancy Kenney

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

Have you ever been to Sundance Film Festival?  The festival that movie star Robert Redford created? The festival where every actor and filmmaker wants their film premiered? Well, I’m here at Sundance and here’s a peek at why you may want to attend someday!

First of all, I came with my daughter, Conci Althouse, KIDS FIRST! ‘s very first film critic and now, a 28-year-old cinematographer, DP. We wanted to make connections with other filmmakers to see how we might fit in with the cream of the crop. Coming to Sundance is more than seeing what films are trending, it is about meeting people who work in the magical world of film.

As we walked up the snowy streets of Park City, Utah we could feel the thrill of accomplishment. Most of these people are at the cutting edge of their creative endeavors. In their search for connection, they are being treated to schmooze parties with yummy food, drinks and music by hosts like WMEntertainment Agency, CNN, IMDb, Sundance Institute, PBS, Netflix, New York Times and a zillion other businesses that thrive on the talents of good story ideas and production people.

For example, our first day we went to five such parties, invitation only. Luckily, Conci’s hard work as a cinematographer and KIDS FIRST! Film Critic paid off! She has friends from college, the American Film Institute, who screened their films at the fest and, hey! we were on their  guest lists. Almost immediately, I was offered a camera package for my urbanism project and Conci had an opportunity to promote her Director of Photography skills as seen in her award winning film, Land of the Free!

At the base of Park Street, skiers would shoosh down the hills and place their skies right outside the theaters. I kept waiting and watching for celebrities to walk past. Movies and skiing – what a combination. It doesn’t get any better than that. No. Wait. It does!

There were interesting panels – actors, writers, directors and this year, even Supreme Court Judge – Ruth Bader Ginsberg – who dug into the deeper issues of society and morality. Each inspired moment was a discussion about finding the story behind the story.

It is the hidden meaning that makes a story rich. Getting to the ‘bottom of things.’ And this is important in every way in our lives. It’s why I became involved with KIDS FIRST! twenty years ago. It isn’t enough to be entertained. It is important to understand the hidden agendas behind stories we see. Who is behind the camera is just as important as who is in front of it. I learned that sometimes it is risky to tell the truth, but with the support of such an amazing community as Sundance, you realize that the world ultimately honors all of us who speak out about the injustices and the glories of being human on this precious planet.  Next year I hope to see you there at the amazing Sundance Film Festival!

 

Forever My Girl – Beautiful Setting, Sappy Story

Friday, January 19th, 2018

After being gone for a decade a country star returns home to the love he left behind. KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror, Kimbirly O. comments, “The setting is beautiful, a fictitious city in the south where everyone knows each other. The southern charm is palpable and warm. I was hoping for a solid romantic story about young love. What was delivered is the very element of sap, much like what is broadcast on the Hallmark Channel, complete with a happy ending.” See her full review below.

Forever My Girl
By Kimbirly Orr, KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

If you love a love story, especially in the vein of a Nicolas Sparks novel, this film is for you. The film is based on a novel written by a woman, Heidi McLaughlin and the screenplay is written and directed by a woman, Bethany Ashton Wolf.

 

Forever My Girl depicts a man who left his bride at the altar. This does not seem like a story any woman wants to tell. Given the marketing mentions Nicholas Sparks and seeking to attract his audiences, it tells me a lot about the studio’s lack of faith in the film.

I cannot lie, Forever My Girl did not set the bar high for a committed relationship, nor the reality of parenting. Liam (Alex Roe), the lead male character, left his beloved fiancé Josie (Jessica Rothe), at the altar to seek fame and fortune as a country singer. His success as a musician is colored with drug and alcohol abuse. After a decade on the road, a funeral in the quaint hometown of the country star brings him back in time to a life he led and seemed to love. The ease with which the lead actors fall back into rhythm with each other appears far-fetched, maximized by Liam learning he has an 8-year-old child he was never told of, Billy (Abby Ryder Fortson), who is by far the star of this film. Her sweetness and snarky delivery of lines mix to deliver a fantastic performance by a child actor.

The setting is beautiful, a fictitious city in the south where everyone knows each other. The southern charm is palpable and warm. I was hoping for a solid romantic story about young love. What was delivered is the very element of sap, much like what is broadcast on the Hallmark Channel, complete with a happy ending.

I give this film 3 of 5 stars for the casting of rising stars, charming location and music. This film will appeal to tween and teen audiences, ages 10 to 18. I caution younger viewing due to drug and alcohol use and abuse. It opens in theaters January 19, 2018 so, check it out.

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