Having spent the last four of its seven years of existence shacked up at the cozy Treasure Mountain Inn, the Slamdance Film Festival finally outgrew its digs this year. The renegade indie film festival, which ran from January 20 to 28, relocated to a remote, but roomier spot on the site of a former silver mine. Despite the location shift, the festival’s popularity hasn’t waned, nor has its spirit changed, serving up yet another provocative slate of films. These included six feature docs, three of which screened in the festival’s ‘lounge,’ and three in the competitive program.
Perhaps no better evidence of Slamdance’s envelope pushing was the screening of Shocking Truth, a doc directed by Sweden’s Alexa Wolf. The film graphically examines the porn industry and its damaging effects – specifically looking at an X-rated late-night program that once aired on Scandinavian cable television.
Filmmaker Duane Graves presented his film Up Syndrome, an intimate portrait of a long-time friend who was born with Down’s syndrome. In the Slamdance program notes, the filmmaker recounts how he found funds for the doc in the unlikeliest place: the trash. Happening upon a dumpster full of film canisters, Graves took the films. They turned out to be all 179 episodes of I Love Lucy, which Duane later sold on eBay for US$4,000.
Taking the Grand Jury Award for Best Feature at Slamdance was Monteith McCollum’s HYBRID, a mesmerizing black and white film that took six years to make. HYBRID delves into the life and work of the filmmaker’s grandfather Milford Beeghly, a man entirely engrossed with growing and hybridizing corn. McCollum dedicated the award to Beeghly, who passed away six days before the festival at the age of 102.