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Monday, 22 January 2007

image for The Sundance Film Festival; Previewing the Winners
The Catholic Church plays a big role in several movies this year at Sundance

Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival kicked off this week in the central Utah town to the usual hoopla and stars. The crop of independent films competing for top prizes is as different from mainstream cinema as usual. There is also no surprise when one examines the playbill and finds that over 90% of the films have something to do with sex.

For example, one film that is getting notices and raves is "Crying in Time." This is the latest work of popular indie director Lev Rocha (a big winner at Cannes for many years and maker of the controversial "Necrophilia for Beginners."). In his newest documentary, Rocha traces the emotional reactions of children (mostly young boys) who are sexually abused by priests, then forced to relive the scenes through countless trials and interviews.

In contrast, "What About the Nuns?" is a documentary that traces the history of sexual abuse by nuns of boys. This film, however, is controversial because it shows young teens volunteering to be partnered with the "hot penguins" and doing "rock, paper, scissors" to figure out who has to "do the saggy, old biddies." This first movie was made by Sophie Mendez, who says that she used to be a "bride of Christ" until an episode in abbey with an enlightened young man "awakened me to my inner woman."

One "mockumentary" at the festival that is drawing attention and rave reviews is "Who'll Do Emma?" This film stars Emma Watson (Hermione in the Harry Potter films) as herself and tries to figure out who will play her first on screen lover when she turns eighteen.

All facets of men and boys are examined, the best probably being "The Dirty Old Man" character of Peter O'Toole.

In comparison, the most disgusting and disturbing is the "Rich Bastard" character portrayal that is obviously a takeoff of Donald Trump. As she is under age, all of her nude shots (except facial close-ups) were filmed with a body double.

When asked, Emma said that she had a preference for anyone who "had not already been with Paris, Nicole, Britney, Christina, Shakira, Hilary, Haylie, Lindsay, the Olsen twins, or any of those other tramps." This will probably limit her to one of those Mormon missionaries, whose presence is everywhere in Utah at the film festival.

"Don't Forget the Trailer Trash" is a low budget film from Simon Simon, director and producer of "Katrina's Forgotten, the Hurricane Whores" (grand prize winner at last year's festival and Oscar winner for best documentary). It is a fictional account of one young girl's fall from popular high school cheerleader to small town prostitute in a southern town. The Olsen twins tagteam as the main character, with the healthy one playing the younger, high school version and the anorexic one playing the older, chain smoking hooker. As no one really knows their individual names anyway, they are billed as they were in Full House as "Mary Kate Ashley Olsen."

The most popular film at the festival this year may be "Cellphone Shots," a film by director Rob Lawrence ("The Big Snuggle"). This film shows the famous Britney exiting the limo scene from all of the different cell phone shots and angles that captured the image. Then, it traces the degradation of the film as it is sent back and forth across the world and through the internet.

Critics have referred to the film as being "eye opening" in regards to the proliferation of picture phones and instant communications.

The annual festival will run through the end of the week and prizes will be announced the last day. After that point, most of the films will be forgotten, except those deemed explicit enough to be rented out in back rooms of video stores.

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