May 19, 2015

Park City: Hope and Chaos at Sundance

The aftermath of a wild night in Hannah Rosner's film Park City

Sundance has enjoyed a reputation as a king-maker of independent films since it truly rose to prominence in the early ‘90s. Directors like Stephen Soderbergh, Kevin Smith, and Quentin Tarantino became stars after their debuts broke out at Sundance. The ‘90s indie revolution was closely aligned with the festival, but its impact doesn’t feel as strong in today’s global marketplace. Even so, countless young filmmakers make the pilgrimage and screen their movies with hopes of getting distribution deals. The event in Park City, Utah has become gigantic, but it remains a crown jewel for aspiring young artists. This excitement is prevalent in Hannah Rosner’s comedy Park City, a light-hearted look at a trip to Sundance. With their film Hearts and Cash packed in their beat-up Prius, a group of filmmakers take a shot at greatness. Of course, the first step is just making it there in one piece.

Rosner uses the mockumentary format to poke fun at the characters, but it’s never mean-spirited. Joey (Joseph Mireles) is the director and has spent his life studying movies. The problem is that he can’t relate to the outside world, especially the chaos of Sundance. He’s lost in the strange world of agents and studio guys yet keeps an optimistic attitude. When their film goes missing, it’s frustrating but isn’t presented like a tragedy. They may bumble their way to it, but this group is heading for a good place. Rosner plays the producer named Hannah Rosner, which adds to the real-life atmosphere. It’s a world that feels similar to our own, though it’s a lot goofier. Hannah is the level-headed person in the group, but even she can’t help but end up sleeping in a bath of nachos. You can only resist for so long.

Hannah Rosner as Hannah and Joseph Mireles as Joey in Park City
David Hoffman, Hannah Rosner, and Joseph Mireles star in Park City

It’s easy to dismiss this movie as just another low-budget indie comedy, but there’s heart within the madness. Their lead actress Jill (Jill Evyn) is full of herself but pretty self-aware for a starlet. She knows how to play dumb, especially when trying to seduce a producer Mr. Cohn (Louis C. Oberlander) to help the movie. Their ridiculous dance back at his place is one of the silliest moments. He’s the only real villain and comes off as more goofy than menacing. The main enemy is bad circumstance, and the odds are not in their favor. Murphy’s Law is cited frequently, but these characters do play a role in their mess. Forgetting to get gas or throwing the back-up screener out the window isn’t completely an accidental moment.

Park City has a low-budget feel, but that connects with the mockumentary format. There are limited sets and a few awkward actors, but that mostly connects with the characters’ lack of resources. Co-written by Julia Turner, the script is breezy and never takes itself too seriously. Joey and Hannah are determined to get their film to the screening, but they spend much of the story facing oddball situations. The standoff with a mustached taxi company owner is a highlight; the actors get what type of movie they’re making. Partially funded through Kickstarter in 2011, this project ends on an upbeat note that conveys the idea that even misfits can make a movie. The final scene of an audience watching Hearts and Cash makes all the hurdles worth it. They may never find success with it, but it was shown at Sundance. Who can complain about that?

Park City is currently available to download on iTunes; check out the trailer here

2 comments:

  1. Watched the trailer for it, but nothing about it seemed funny or interesting to me, so I decided to skip it.

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    1. It's not "laugh a minute" hilarity, but I did find some charm with it.

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