Sundance 2021 Film Festival Diary: Day 4 | Film Streams
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Kenneth Sundance Diary4

Sundance 2021 Film Festival Diary: Day 4

Dear Diary,

The first film of the day was also the one I had the most complicated feelings about. AT THE READY is a documentary looking at a high school club focused on getting teens (particularly latinx teens) into Law Enforcement and Border Patrol in El Paso, Texas. This was a very difficult film to get into, just beyond the subject matter and getting past the outrage of that feeder program to recruit kids into law enforcement and there are many things to get upset about in this film. However the portraits of the main subjects of the film are really compelling and really give a well rounded picture of how their identity impacts their decisions and how it complicates their relationship with their dream careers. The director, Maisie Crow, does good work at contextualizing these kids' journeys in the larger political landscape by making the race between Beto O'Rourke and Ted Cruz a significant moment in the film. However this focus does kind of reduce the conversation to Republican Border Patrol = Bad vs Democrat Border Patrol = Good without really interrogating the deep flaws in the Border Patrol as an organization and the complicity in both parties in it's offenses. Definitely an interesting film that I think there will be a lot of takes drawn from, depending on where a viewer is coming from.

The second film was the premiere of TOGETHER TOGETHER, a movie by Nikole Beckwith about a 26-year-old surrogate mother and the platonic bond between her and the hopeful father. I was particularly drawn to the film because I'm a big fan of Patti Harrison's comedy work and it was a pleasant time. There's a really nice warmth to this film and there's a great chemistry between Harrison and Ed Helms. Overall a very nice time that's as funny as it is heartwarming.

The last film of the day was BRING YOUR OWN BRIGAIDE which was a pretty interesting look at California's more recent string of wild fires. Lucy Walker brings focus to many of the individual stories of those affected by those fires and then turns to look at the unexpected ecological causes of these fires and what could be done. This way Walker captures the horror and pain of these fires is really effective, however the back third of the film was a bit less focused and lost a bit of my attention. Despite this, a very informative and eye opening entry.

It was definitely a slower day for me in comparison to my 5 film day on Saturday so the competition between the films isn't as heated. I would chose TOGETHER TOGETHER as my top pick.