Independent's Day is the next best thing to being there. If Sundance is indeed "a monster," as founder Robert Redford has said, then Marina Zenovich's irreverent chronicle of the 1997 festival takes viewers into the belly of the beast. Make way for the film critics and the cell-phone-toting studio executives, the bedraggled filmmakers carrying their precious films around in Glad bags, and the actors looking for indie cred. (Hey look--it's Tori Spelling!) Ever since Soderbergh scored an unprecedented Hollywood windfall with sex, lies, and videotape in 1989, independent filmmakers have "set their clock" by Sundance. In 1997, this film informs us, 800 films were submitted to the festival, up from 50 in 1985. From breakout successes such as Neil Labute (In the Company of Men) and Kevin Smith (Chasing Amy) to lost-in-the-shuffle obscurities such as Jeremiah Bosgang, Independent's Day captures the exhilaration and gallows humor of the Sundance experience. Zenovich also detours to the alternative Slamdance Festival, which was created for films rejected by Sundance, and the alternative to the alternative, Slumdance.
For aspiring filmmakers, Independent's Day is an inspiring primer. Consider what one director suggests: "Anyone asks, tell them you went to film school. Preferably Canadian. No one knows anything about Canada anyway." --Donald Liebenson