Climate crises stories seize the spotlight at Sundance Film Festival 2022

Sundance Film Festival 2022 lineup ignites action around climate politics.

Climate stories at Sundance Film Festival 2022 include ‘Utama,’ Bolivian filmmaker Alejandro Loayza Grisi’s drama about an elderly couple battling drought in the rugged Altiplano area of Bolivia.

Sundance Diary Day Two Friday, January 21, 2022

Healthy submissions to Sundance Film Festival 2022 prove that artists sustained themselves and worked throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Artists continue to gather the resources to craft their stories and identify the Sundance community as a supportive place to share their works. It’s arguably the most hopeful sign coming out of Sundance 2022, happening virtually for the second year in a row.

“We don’t intentionally program to themes, but the films speak to each other,” says Festival Director of Programming Kim Yutani, speaking at a panel opening the 2022 festival. “The films speak to the cultural moments including the current state of the environment and climate politics.”

Climate stories include Utama, Bolivian filmmaker Alejandro Loayza Grisi’s drama about an elderly couple battling drought in the rugged Altiplano area of Bolivia, and To the End, a documentary about four women leaders working towards climate solutions from filmmaker Rachel Lears.

Farhana Yamin, an environmental lawyer; joins Vanessa Nakate, the Rise Up Climate Movement founder, Geeta Persad, a climate scientist at the University of Texas, and Andrea Ixchiu, a journalist and land protector in Guatemala, at Sundance. They’re speaking at the Friday panel Calling All Artists: The Climate Crisis Is Recruiting.

Climate change leaders including Farhana Yamin, an environmental lawyer, speak at the The Climate Crisis is Recruiting panel at Sundance 2022.

Yamin and the other climate leaders also share advice to help Sundance 2022 artists challenge the climate status quo and push the storytelling envelope.

“We only use the tools that speak to our intellect,” says Yamin. “We overlook other senses like the heart, poetry, and magic. If you think of climate stories in musical terms, we’d only be using cymbals and drums, the equivalent of stories about climate laws and economics. Cymbals and drums are loud, alienating, and annoying. We need to involve the full range of instruments.”

Are you inspired by the climate call-to-action shared by Yamin and the other climate crisis panelists? What stories will you share? Dive into Sundance 2022 from anywhere globally and experience powerful stories on climate.

Actor Bill Nighy lifts the period drama ‘Living,” debuting in the Premieres section of Sundance Film Festival 2022.

What I’m Watching:

‘Living’

Actor Bill Nighy lifts the period drama Living, debuting in the Premieres section of Sundance 2002, via a quiet but powerful lead performance. Making dramatic use of a bowler hat and a soft, raspy voice, Nighy appears in almost all of the film’s scenes as

Mr. Williams, a government bureaucrat in 1949 London, committed to public service and productivity after learning of a terminal illness. 

Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film Ikuru is the starting point for filmmaker Oliver Harmanus (Beauty) and writer Kazuo Ishiguro. They curate Ikuru‘s universal themes while crafting a beautiful, emotional, London-based drama that stands on its qualities. Nighy anchors the film’s beautiful period backdrops and humanistic tale. Aimee Lou Wood provides strong support as a cheerful government employee who inspires Williams to change his ways. Tom Burke makes the most of his brief scenes as a beatnik writer who accompanies Williams on an alcoholic binge.

The cast and crew of ‘Living’ share ideas and inspirations at a Sundance 2022 Q&A session.

What I’m Learning:

 ‘Living’ inspires actor Bill Nighy to watch Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film ‘Ikuru.’

Actor Bill Nighy shares in a Sundance 2022 Q&A that he never watched Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film Ikuru until prepping for his starring role in Living, debuting in the Premieres section of the festival. Nighy’s performance of Mr. Williams, a government bureaucrat in 1949 London, attempting to ignite new meaning in his life after learning of a terminal illness, is a reimagining of the classic Kurosawa movie.

“I watched the movie and admired it tremendously,” Nighy says. “It was a different kind of performance than I had formed in my mind.”

Sundance 2022 attendees experience future storytelling projects at the festival’s New Frontier section.

What’s New:

Experience a real-time interactive platform from IDFA DocLab and Ohyay

Sundancers discover impactful examples of Future Storytelling at the festival’s New Frontier section. It’s inspiring to experience the new digital tools and services Sundance artists use for their interactive projects. IDFA DocLab, the new media program of Amsterdam’s International Documentary Film Festival, marks its New Frontier collaboration with an interactive portal transporting attendees to Europe. IDFA DocLab uses Ohyay, a real-time design platform supporting interactive virtual experiences. I’m excited to immerse myself in the Ohyay platform throughout the festival.

‘Stranger Than Rotterdam with Sara Driver’ is the sixth short film from animation duo Lewie and Noah Kloster.

Shorts Discoveries:

‘Stranger Than Rotterdam with Sara Driver’

Trust me as an experienced Sundancer that the Shorts Film Competition is the most competitive program at the Sundance Film Festival. The festival section also delivers enjoyable discoveries like Stranger Than Rotterdam with Sara Driver, the sixth short from animation duo Lewie and Noah Kloster. Driver, an independent filmmaker and actress narrates her stranger-than-fiction story about transporting Robert Frank’s unreleased documentary Cocksucker Blues to the Rotterdam Film Festival with the intention of landing financing for Jim Jarmusch’s debut feature film Stranger Than Paradise. Driver’s storytelling brings verve to the fantastic animation and handmade puppets from brothers Lewie and Noah Kloster. It’s a heartwarming and hip celebration of indie spirit and guerilla filmmaking.

Behind the Screens:

There’s one question to consider as a Sundance streamer. Stream Sundance 2022 films from the comfort of your sofa via the festival website, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Apple TV. Watch premieres throughout the festival or purchase a pass for award winners at the wrap of Sundance 2022. Can anyone hear you when you jump to your feet and give a film like Sharp Stick a standing ovation?

It’s Sundance week. Read my Sundance Film Festival 2022 diaries. Interact with all the Sundance 2022 virtual attendees and me. Join my avatar on the New Frontier Spaceship.

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