My first night at Sundance and it’s freezing. Only on the outside. Am surrounded by people queuing up in front of volunteers with plastic badges hanging from chains round their necks. Some are wearing snazzy warm festival-branded fleeces. They all seem lovely. Film festivals, at times, can be little more than cattle markets or schmooze-zones, and I’m sure Sundance has its share of that – but tonight the audience seemed all about the movie. A Korean documentary about an elderly couple and their ox – I’m not kidding – called ‘Old Partner’ constituted my introductory screening, and I guess all I can say is that it’s as good a film about an elderly couple and their ox could expect to be. Delicate and harsh in the same sentence – as gorgeous images of nature compete with the reality that the husband and the dying ox are both winding down their lives, and neither of them is happy about it. ‘Old Partner’ was followed by a marvelous Irish short by Tony Donoghue, ’6 Farms’ – a fantastic time lapse still photography piece about Tipperary agricultural traditions. It was like Aardman’s ‘Creature Comforts’ with more literal images. The photographic technique is so complex that this almost certainly is one of the longest short film shoots in history.
Tomorrow I’ve a revisionist Western (is there any other kind these days?), a stop-motion animated film about a penpal relationship between an 8 year old girl and a middle aged obese man with Aspergers, and a boxing documentary about Muhammad Ali that isn’t ‘When we were Kings’. Reports will appear here if the frostbite on my fingers thaws.