I was hoping to post this earlier than now, for I imagine the powers-that-be at Sundance have already locked their program, but I thought I'd give it a shot and let the world know about some films I've seen that will be making the festival rounds in 2009. To all of you programmers, if these films haven't been submitted to your festivals yet, track them down. In no definitive order of preference, they are, as follows:
St. Nick (David Lowery) — Anyone who's followed the progression of David Lowery as a filmmaker knows that he won't disappoint, but his first feature is better than I hoped it would be. St. Nick is a dreamily naturalistic ode to childhood that resuscitates those innocent, tender feelings with breathtaking intimacy. I can't wait to see this on the big screen.
Brock Enright: Good Times Will Never Be The Same Again (Jody Lee Lipes) — Lipes firmly established himself as one of his generation's finest cinematographers in 2008 with the remarkable one-two punch of Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell and Afterschool, but with this documentary, he confirms that his talent extends to the director's chair. Whereas most recent no-budget digital cinema has consisted of narrative filmmakers selling short their productions by employing sloppy, hand-held, pseudo-documentary cinematography, Lipes shoots his actual documentary like a beautifully staged art film. The result is something truly distinct. And I haven't even begun to discuss the film's borderline insane content, which I will save for another day.
Lightning Salad Moving Picture (Kenneth Price) — I'm not big on sketch comedy. But this movie is something else entirely (it certainly isn't that). While the trailer looks funny enough, it doesn't come anywhere near to doing this movie justice. This thing is absolutely fucking hilarious. Kenneth Price and the Superkiiids!!! prove that money doesn't matter. This is my favorite new under-the-radar comedy of 2009.
God's Architects (Zach Godshall) — Godshall (Low and Behold) makes a straight documentary this time around, introducing a handful of characters who, through divine inspiration, went on to build some of America's more strangely beautiful creations.