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The 5 Best Films at Sundance!

Ya gurl is back from her first ever Sundance and what a thrilling/cold/intense film festival it was! I managed to watch 18 films in the short period I was there running around through the blaring cold with basically my head cut off to every bus shuttle, screening, and party! Scratch the parties, my trip to Sundance was strictly all about the films and what a glorious selection of films I got to watch! Considering that it is Sundance, the standard (& my expectations) of films are always A++, top notch, cream of the crop kind of films and duh, I was not disappointed! There are plenty of films I did not catch but from the batch that I did, here are the 5 best films at Sundance! 

Songs My Brothers Taught Me (Dir. ChloƩ Zhao)

ChloĆ© Zhao's directorial debut feature Songs My Brothers Taught Me was the biggest surprise of the festival! The film had only been on my radar because I saw that every film organization from Film Independent to IFP were huge supporters of her and so I thought why not check it out. I had no expectations of what the premise was about but was wholly blown away by the potently poetic and emotionally enveloping low-key portrait of the life on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Without having any pre-conceived notion about Native Americans and the culture, the film gave a sneak peek into their usually reserved lives with sweeping beauty and sincerity. With it's simple narrative, the naturalistic performances and painstakingly intimate bond between a brother and sister brought more emotional feels within me than I had ever expected. 

Tangerine (Dir. Sean Baker)

Sean Baker's Tangerine has been on my hot list ever since I heard it was going to play Sundance and as much as I hyped it up to unparalleled heights, it surpassed everything I expected and beyond! Baker shocked audiences and critics alike when he revealed that the entire film was shot on iPhone 5s and that mind-blowing attribute is just scratching the surface as to why Baker is the visionary filmmaker that he is! Utilizing first-time transgender actresses and on-location shooting on the nitty-gritty streets of Los Angeles, specifically, Santa Monica Blvd--he tells one of the most authentic and heartfelt stories about female friendship following two sex workers, Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) and Alexandra (Mya Taylor) as they ravage the streets of LA in search of Sin-Dee's cheating pimp! Tangerine is a ferocious monster that is told with belly-aching hilarity and irresistibly trashy flair that will gobble you alive and spit you back out! It is bound to be one of the best films of 2015! I guarantee it!

The Wolfpack (Dir. Crystal Moselle)

Hands down, The Wolfpack is the most fascinating documentary to come out of Sundance this year, that'll leave you endlessly intrigued all while being freaked the fuck out. Locked away from society in an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Angulo brothers learn about the outside world through the films that they watch. Through the span of four years, Moselle highlights the Angulo brother's lives with unfettered access into their strange situation of being a prisoner in their own home and their eventual progression into society. Their story is told with mesmerizing intimacy and warmth and yet, the underlining fear of unspoken mysteries looming within their family is surely to haunt you for days. In the end, it is the brothers' spunky and die-hard love for cinema that captures our hearts like shown here, a video of them re-enacting word for word their favorite films

Pervert Park (Dir. Frida & Lasse Barkfors)

Pervert Park is just as brutally tramautizing and tragic as the title sounds. As part of Florida Justice Transitions, a group of sex offenders reside in the run-down trailer park to try to re-integrate into society. In pure observational fashion, Frida and Lasse Barkfors' offers a unbiased look at these sex offenders who confront and reflect on their crimes that have forever brandished themselves as outcasts. These handful of sex offenders share their personal stories of their crimes that range from "simple" mistakes to heinous crimes that all fall under the same umbrella as a sex offender no matter how little or extreme their crime is. Through brazen access, Pervert Park paints the troubling portrait of abuse, injustice, and stigma in America as a sex offender that is equally eye-opening as it is ungodly disturbing.

The Witch (Dir. Robert Eggers)

Robert Eggers' directorial debut film The Witch is a exquisite work of horror unlike anything I have seen in recent years and dare I say, a masterpiece. Seasoned as a production designer, Egger delivers his first film like a veteran auteur with hyper-detailed visual style akin to Kubrick about a colonial family whose superstitions are taken to maddening lengths when one of their family member goes missing. Eggers expertly creates a terrifying new standard of horror with stark historical realism that builds on a family's suffocating anxieties and fears. I almost passed up on this film because I did not want to watch a Salem-esque story about a boring family but good thing I didn't! There's no denying the meticulously daunting world that Egger has built from literally ground up that rides on the screams of human misery. Bonus points: they revived my love for witches again!

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