There’s a reason, of course, why winners of the Sundance Audience Awards always seem a bit more vital and exciting than the awards handed out by Sundance jurors. Because Sundance jurors are always the same cool enlightened industry people who would never stray outside their tasteful, sensitive perimeter. It’s a club, the Sundance juror fraternity-sorority…a clique. And becoming a member is no duckwalk. You have to prove that you’re one of them and that you get their sensibility and their lifestyle, and that means observing certain rules and conditions.
It’s the same with joining any elite golf course or elite tennis club or elite Hollywood poker game.
The just-announced Sundance jurors are total club members. They’re all hip professionals with excellent credentials and elegant educations and an enviable dress sense. If I were doing the inviting I’d pick these guys also. I’m not saying they’re not cool. I’m just saying there’s not a madman or wildcat or loose cannon among them. They all “talk the talk and walk the walk,” so to speak. Nothing wrong with that, but it tends to result in the same kind of films winning Sundance juror awards.
The 2013 U.S. Dramatic Jury is composed of Ed Burns (Fitzgerald Family Christmas), Wesley Morris (film critic for Boston Globe, Grantland), Rodrigo Prieto (cinematographer of Brokeback Mountain, 8 Mile, 25th Hour, 21 Grams), Tom Rothman (former 20th Century Fox chairman), Clare Stewart (British Film Institute).
The 2013 Documentary Jurors are Liz Garbus (Ghosts of Abu Ghraib), Davis Guggenheim (Waiting or Superman), Gary Hustwit (Urbanized), Brett Morgen (Crossfire Hurricane, The Kid Stays in the Picture) and Diane Weyermann (Participant).
And it goes on like that. It’s all fine, all groovy. But the Audience Awards, no offense, are where it’s at.