In a 1.25 Sundance Film Festival sum-up, N.Y. Times critic Manohla Dargis acknowledges that the festival “has been widely and rather a little too conclusively declared a disappointment before it was even over.”
I don’t want to assess things in a facile or simplistic way, but I haven’t spoken to a single person in Park City who doesn’t feel that Sundance ’18 has been, at the very least, didactic and a tad underwhelming. Actually, forget the “tad.”
For her own, Dargis thinks the festival has been pretty good if not perfectly fine. She acknowledges that “the tumult of both #MeToo and Black Lives Matter reverberated throughout the festival much as it has throughout the industry.” The “woke” thing doesn’t bother her because Sundance has “been pushing and advocating for filmmakers who are not white men for much of [its] history,” and because it has long been “committed to character-driven tales about lost, besieged, oppressed, searching and triumphant outsiders of one type or another.”
If Dargis truly believes that the aggressively instructive, agenda-driven climate at this year’s festival is no different than the Sundance vibe 10, 15 or 20 years ago, then I don’t know what to say.