First-time filmmaker Lance Hammer‘s Ballast, which I’ll try to catch at the Monday noon Eccles screening, has gotten more “you need to see this” buzz than any other Sundance film thus far. Consider this excerpt from Robert Koehler‘s 1.19.08 Variety review.
“A rock-ribbed sense of committed, personal cinema and a core belief in people being able to pull themselves out of misery supports Ballast, an extraordinary debut by editor-writer-director Lance Hammer. Though his name would be better suited to sign high-octane action movies, Hammer quickly establishes himself with the only film he’s ever made as a humanist artist working confidently and quietly with the cinema’s most basic and expressive tools.
“Following a Mississippi Delta family shattered by suicide and violence, pic runs a course from wrenching death to possible uplift that seems real every second, but will prove a challenge to potential distribs even while winning over fests worldwide.
“A rare case of a Sundance competition film also in the running at Berlin, such a one-two punch suggests a notable work, but also perhaps creates inflated expectations, even though unknowns are involved on both sides of the camera. Hammer’s achievement is to create a thoroughly engrossing experience that attends to everyday life’s small (and in a few cases, significant) moments, and is certain to command high respect as a film that operates by its principles and engages audiences’ best human responses.”