The Artist as Indie Film Darling? 10 Films About Creativity at Sundance 2013

The Artist as Indie Film Darling? 10 Films About Creativity at Sundance 2013
A still from "Running from Crazy"
(Doc Premieres)

Art-lovers among the filmmakers and fans gathered in the snowy Utah mountains for the 2013 Sundance Film Festival have a plethora of art-related viewing options this week. From Ireland to Sierra Leone and with subjects ranging from Hemingway to Pussy Riot, the art film offerings are vast. Herein ARTINFO presents the 10 selections we are most excited about at Sundance this year.

Cutie and the Boxer
In the late 1960s, two young Japanese artists, Ushio and Noriko Shinohara, met in New York City, fell in love and got married, but did not quite live happily ever after. “Cutie and the Boxer,” the story of their struggle to survive as artists and as a couple through alcoholism, financial anxieties, and creative ambitions, is the sort of honest, artist-life depiction we don't see enough of. 


Michael Almereyda’s short film, composed of Chris Killip’s black-and-white photographs, offers a glimpse into the remote world of an English fishing village on the North Sea. The images masterfully reveal the melancholy essence of the town without making it look depressing. 

History of the Eagles, Part One
This highly anticipated documentary is the first segment of a two-part film tracing the history of one of America’s most popular rock bands. With loads of never-before seen archival footage, home movies, and recently-filmed interviews with band members and their entourage, this promises to be one of the week’s most talked-about, and celebrated films. 

Kill Your Darlings
Daniel Radcliffe plays a young Jack Kerouac, struggling through his implication in the 1944 murder of David Kammerer, as well as all of the other issues faced by a young writer on the verge of defining a generation. We have high hopes for this debut by Yale alum John Krokidas, and his depiction of the artists before they became the beats. 

Pussy Riot — A Punk Prayer
We’ve been following along with the rest of the world as the members of Pussy Riot have become victims of Russia’s draconian legal system. We’re not sure this film can offer much in the way of hope or clarity, but we always want to know a little more about our favorite Russian-feminist-activist collective. 

Running from Crazy
Following Ernest Hemingway’s granddaughter, Mariel, “Running from Crazy” is a portrait of the Hemingway family, at once portraying their creative brio along with the darker sides of depression and suicide that run in the family. If any director has the ability to capture so much complexity, it is Barbara Kopple, who won every category for documentary films at Sundance with her 1991 film, “American Dream.”

“Salma” is the incredible true story of the most famous Tamil poet — a young woman who, despite being forced into marriage at 13 and forbidden from studying, smuggled her poems out of her own house to get them to a publisher. This seems like a film that could very well re-define the concepts of creative ambition and commitment to one’s work. 

Twenty Feet from Stardom
Through interviews with legendary musicians and lesser-known back-up vocalists, “Twenty Feet from Stardom” offers a look at the singers who support the stars, but rarely see their own names in lights, in a cinematic a reminder of all the unknown people whose work contributes to the fame and success of celebrated artists and musicians. 

30% (Women and Politics in Sierra Leone)
While not about art, the use of oil-painted animation combined with documentary footage to tell the stories of three women working to change gender inequities in post-conflict Sierra Leone is possibly the most creatively produced film in the festival this year. 

Irish Folk Furniture
This short, animated documentary follows the restoration of 16 different pieces of traditional Irish folk furniture, often passed from generation to generation in poor families. The humble premise of “Irish Folk Furniture” belies a fascinating look at an oft-forgotten genre of design.