Who’s Independent Now?: A winter storm warning is in effect for Park City, Utah, but four inches of snow did not affect the first day of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. In the opening press conference, Robert Redford declared: "This is the only festival that I know about in the world that is purely independent,” raising more than a few eyebrows. Film critic Eric Kohn commented: “Pure independence amounts to a myth that the festival itself invented.” (Indiewire)
The festival got underway with four world premieres on opening night.
The Queen of Versailles. A documentary about time-share billionaires Jackie and David Siegel, whose fortune was eroded by the 2008 economic crisis. The description of the film prompted David Siegel to file a lawsuit. Jacqueline Siegel attended the screening, but did not stop to answer questions. The audience, “populated in good part by Sundance’s wealthy patrons and sponsors,” applauded enthusiastically. (Salt Lake Tribune)
Hello I Must Be Going. Melanie Lynskey stars as a 35-year-old woman who moves back in with her parents after her divorce. Critic Alonso Duralde raved: “Wall-to-wall great [performances] but it's all about the next-level work of the extraordinary” Lynskey. Industry veteran Ira Deutchman described it as a “sweet [and] touching story of how we project our aspirations on others” and called Lynskey “super appealing” in the role. (Twitter)
Wish You Were Here. Joel Edgerton stars in this Australian tale of two couples on an impromptu vacation in Cambodia. Our own Erik Davis says it’s “a solid slow-burn missing person's mystery that sneaks up [and] claws you in the neck.” Twitch Film reported: “Everyone agrees acting is excellent but some unhappy with clumsy plot,” while Matt Patches felt that Edgerton’s “co-star and movie co-writer Felicity Price is the stand out.” (Twitter)
Searching for Sugar Man. A documentary about a musician known as Rodriguez, who could have been a 70s rock icon but instead faded into obscurity. The New York Times dubbed it an “instant audience award contender” early in the afternoon, an opinion confirmed by our own Todd Gilchrist: “Freaking great. Mega-crowd pleaser that's an immediate Audience Award shortlist candidate.” (New York Times / Twitter)