The Sundance Experience

Prior to Sundance, independent film seemed to be the cousin to independent music. Instead of uniquely individual bands that haven’t attracted the mainstream and received regular play, replace bands with music and voila you have an explanation of independent films. While this definition does define independent film in a rather simple way, it does actually work. From going to Sundance and sampling some of the films with more questionable storylines, films of independent filmmakers usually tackle things that are left untouched by the mainstream movie industry. The ability to do so while staying true to who they are as writers and directors evokes the sense of independence from Hollywood that is often felt at a festival like Sundance.

It is the films that push boundaries, that tell untold stories, innovative films that twist what we think we understand to be normal into something beyond the ability of our own imagination as viewers are the ones that are showcased at Sundance. The festival allows risks to be taken; the very distributors and studios that initially may have thought no may be persuaded to say yes by the end of the festival. It is in that tradition that films usually try to push discussions on things untalked about in mainstream media, it is at Sundance the gay film found it’s voice its relevance and it’s ability to speak to society. The movies with small budgets can tell twice the story and connect you more than the mainstream movies boasting millions of dollars and studio support. For in the independent world it is hardly ever really about money, but quality and talent.

Having experienced Sundance first hand the festival strikes me as one of the many places that stories are being told, where people of all backgrounds and walks of life are able to look up at the big screen and see someone like them staring back at them as a fictional character or even in a documentary. The films of Sundance create connections between their audience and their characters, not just pure entertainment. It is now easy to understand why aspiring filmmakers flock to Sundance, because it is easy to be inspired and it is easy to find a project that allows you to see the chance that your story could be told just like this one.

Film as an art form is easily seen when directors talk about their projects, their passion and their vision can be spotted from the audience as they explain the lengths they went to create their film, passionate explanation for scenes and choices, and most of all their pride in their creation that could be for many their first film. The overwhelming presence of industry people at Sundance reminds you of the business side of things, some of the more captivating and buzzed about films causing bidding wars and being bought the next day after their premiere. The festival maintains a tough balance between business and art as both filmmakers and filmgoers make up the audience who attends Sundance.

With my experience at Sundance I’ve learned that no story is too farfetched, and with determination and passion more stories can be told that reflect who I am and my life experience. But it’s not just the films that mirror real life that are captivating, films that make you appreciate the human experience and talk about things that may have seemed off limits are equally profound in this arena. If not at Sundance when will you ever see a film that makes you discuss the world of BDSM pornography over dinner? The chance to experience these movies first in the secluded world of Sundance is a once in a lifetime opportunity that have opened my eyes to film and the opportunities to independent film provides.

And here are some reviews for some innovative and awesome films…

Pit Stop

Director/ Writer: Yen Tan

  1. Two gay men live in a small town in Texas. One dealing with the end of his affair with a married man by leaning on his ex-wife and daughter, which only complicates their relationship more as she’s still dealing with the new challenges that his homosexuality present in their relationship. The other deals with the loss of a lover who is placed in a coma after a car accident, and cutting ties between him and new younger fling. Although two separate characters, their stories come together by the end of the film with them finally finding each other.
  2. Visually the film took on the small town feel of Texas, without any exciting captivating locations but rather drab normal places. The strengths definitely lie in the character Gabe and his storyline, the more interesting of two men, actor Bill Heck seems to outshine his counterpart stealing the spotlight.
  3. The film isn’t breath taking in terms of visuals, but gets the job done. Narratively it’s at times sluggish as we switch between the two men without any initial connection until the end of the film, the only thing tying them together is the town and a gas station. Ernesto’s character’s storyline seems lackluster, and his young ex-boyfriend proves more interesting than him. Actor Marcus DeAnda seems to lack the acting chops to play a believable gay man, as his character at times seems to be trying too hard.
  4. Together these two men follow a mythic course of a minority, being probably apart of only a small population of gay men in the small Texas town. It is this myth that allows the paths of these two men to cross paths. By the end of the movie they find each other via an online gay hook up site, thus being able to find each other in such a small pool of individuals in this small town. Their lifestyle is not as open as it may be if the story was portrayed in a city or town with a large gay population, thus their myth is following the cultural myth of small rural towns being less progressive.
  5. The main cultural belief challenged is heterosexually, as that sexual orientation is the one that dominates mainstream movies. In Pit Stop, it is clearly about two men and their journeys and struggles with relationships, and through casual sex they find each other.
  6. With the premise of two characters that are living separate wives who eventually cross paths, the plotline isn’t completely independent or original. Setting this story in a small Texas town and having the main characters be gay men, provides the independent twist and conflict of the film. The most independent and provoking part of the film is the gay love scene, which was beautifully down in an tastefully sexual and passionate way. The gay sex scene is hardly ever depicted in film, and with a longer sex scene than usual, Pit Stop pushes the envelope.
  7. The director wanted the sex scene to stand out, showing intimacy through unflattering and realistic sex rather than glamorized Hollywood type sex. The characters made unattractive faces and were vulnerable during this scene, which helped achieve the passion and intimacy that emitted from the screen.

-The actor Marcus DeAnda heavily pursued the role of his character Ernesto, which is interesting given that his character wasn’t the strongest and barely contributed much to the storyline.

-The actor who played Gabe, Bill Heck and the actress who played his life were both drawn to the roles because of the portrayal of the fall out of a broken marriage and one that portrayed the loneliness that can occur in homosexual relationships

8.The most powerful scene was the sex scene, which was climax as well as the ending of the story. Beautifully captured it wasn’t uncomfortable to watch as it continued passed the normal length of a typical sex scene. Shooting it with no cuts or different angles made even more realistic than your typical Hollywood sex scene.


Director: Christina Voros

  1. The issue at the heart of Kink is the negative representation of pornography and those involved in it’s creation. Especially porn that involves rather edgy material such as the BDSM porn featured on
  2. By focusing on one single production company and their employees and the films they produce, the film clearly promotes the point of view of employees and employers. People who are clearly comfortable with pornography and actively involved in it, who can address the stereotypes they often confront with disclosing their occupation. In an attempt to be unbiased the employees clearly go over their process of creating porn, making sure to reinstate that they listen to their models or talent and will stop a shoot if it seems to be edging on unsafe territory for the participants. Going of their screening process with casting, as well as shooting with directors, Kink clearly lays out their serious and business like approach to BDSM pornography.
  3. Portraying a porn company in a rather positive light seems like a tough thing to do, but the people at seem to make it rather easy as they’re normal funny average people with unconventional jobs. Through showing the people behind the scenes and their thought process and experience to approach such edgy material, Kink keeps the documentary at the forefront in the title of porn documentary. Through interviews and only showing the porn shoots when necessary to illustrate the commentary, kink is a humorous journey sparking laughter rather than uneasiness.
  4. This documentary follows the myth of a taboo industry and exposing it in a way that makes it conversational and less abnormal than it is usually seen. Focusing on the people, the human beings with personalities and likeability allows the film to lack a preachy quality and find an relatable portion that would open audiences to this world.
  5. It is clear that pornography is a topic that is often avoided in everyday discussion, and the hidden unspoken world of pornography is often unexplored. When you begin to explore a world such as pornography in a more modern and progressive time, touching on an edgy sphere within that world such as BDSM allows for an even more independent film to be created. By not only showing sex, but sexual pleasured gained from unconventional methods that seem almost torturous pushes the boundaries of this film.
  6.  –When approached to direct the film, Director Christian Voros was skeptical and didn’t jump at the opportunity. Even going into the project she did not think she would be able to shoot certain things.

– had been the subject of a reality show that never took off, due to the negative portrayl of the company many of the employees were hesitant to appear on film and many of them wore badges to make sure they were not on camera.

-The company avoids the terms porn star or actress or actor, with the desire to achieve real and unscripted reactions in their films.

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