It is surprising how being hundreds of miles away from home and in a new environment have turned things upside down. My top priorities in Pasadena are food, school deadlines, and work. In my final few days at Sundance, eating has become somewhat of an afterthought. Dressing for the snow, catching shuttles, waiting in long lines and watching films has taken over my life. Nonetheless, today was a good food day. I was told I had to have a bagel sandwich from Wasatch Bagel Cafe. I had a vegetarian sandwich. Somehow I had not realized I was actually hungry. As I chewed on that first bite of humus and veggies my taste buds reawakened from the coma of a snack-bars-and-toast diet. A bagel sandwich had never tasted this good. Loitering after eating was actually productive, and I got to do forum post homework! This is about all the homework I can foresee myself doing while here, but #NoRegrets!
Chris Lopez and I watched Un Traductor and the Animation Spotlight today. In that order, one right after the other. Speed walking in the snow is harder and more dangerous than I imagined.
Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro plays Malin, a professor at the University of Havana who teaches Russian Literature. One day he unexpectedly finds that his classes have been cancelled. Malin and his colleagues have been temporarily reassigned to work at a hospital as translators for victims of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. He is assigned the night shift in the children’s ward. He and his wife Isona are forced to navigate the consequences of this assignment.
Co-directors Rodrigo and Sebastián Barriuso based the film on the true story of their parents. Reading this final piece of information before the credits started rolling was like feeling — not watching, just feeling — the entire story all over again. In the final five seconds it took to read those words the Barriuso brothers masterfully provoked emotion from audience. That final communal gasp was delightful. I wonder if the filmmaking process was cathartic for them. How involved were their parents, what did they think of their story being told in this way? We had to run to the next screening and didn’t get to stay for the Q&A with the directors. It may be a while before I get the answers to these questions.
There were some enjoyable animation shorts in this program. Shorts that were funny, emotional, or quirky. There were also some bizarre, almost psychoanalytically uncanny shorts. Shorts that I felt were too long! The winner of the Jury Prize was Glucose. It has its moments…
By far, my favorite was The Driver Is Red. It is an animated documentary set in 1960s Argentina about a covert operation, led by Israeli Mossad agent Zvi Aharoni, to capture Nazi lieutenant colonel Adolf Eichman. It is at the same time educational, aesthetically pleasing, and suspenseful! The voiceover narration draws you in from the start, and the sketch animation aesthetic remarkably accentuates the clandestine nature of the story. I think PBS acquired this short for distribution. I’ll definitely be checking for it.