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Slamdance Follow-up
by jcr13Sunday, February 4, 2007 [6:59 pm]

I was in Park City, Utah from January 18-28 for the Slamdance indie film and game festival. If you've heard of Slamdance, it's probably because of the recent controversy over SCMRPG. Of course, there's more to Slamdance than the controversy---it's a 13-year-old film festival that was started by film makers in response to various trends at Sundance. Slamdance, unlike Sundance, is only open to first-time film makers. No big-name directors and very few big-name stars.

Many people were disappointed that I didn't join the protest and pull my game from the festival. I certainly had uneasy feelings about my screening plans. However, so many people pulled out that there wasn't much of a screening schedule left. In the end, only four games screened (Toribash, Steam Brigade, Base Invaders, and Cultivation---the Toblo team was present, but they did not screen their game). So, screenings only occupied a handful of hours. What did we do with the rest of our time there? We talked about the controversy.

For those finalists who chose to steer clear of Slamdance, I feel nothing but sorry for you. You missed one of the most interesting game-related discussions in the history of games. This was a discussion that sprawled across several days and many different settings---breakfasts, lunches, dinners, happy hours, panels, and Main Street strolls. The discussion involved game makers, film makers, festival staff, press, audience members, and even Danny Ledonne himself. He was busy gathering footage for his upcoming documentary about the controversy. I was interviewed for his doc, as were all the other game makers who were willing.

As a group, we decided not to accept any awards, so no Grand Jury prize was handed out.

By Wednesday, all of the other game-related folks had left Park City and headed back home. The Game Lounge was co-opted for other purposes. I stayed on for the rest of the festival, however, because I wanted to see as many films as I could (as a finalist, I got free tickets to every screening). So, I spent the rest of the week hanging out with film makers. And the controvery-related discussion continued (along with lots of other interesting discussion).

For me, Slamdance was the experience of a lifetime (so far). I could write many screen-fulls about it, but I'll stop here by giving a few recommendations (my picks, not the actual award winners):

Best Game: Toribash

Best Documentary: Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa

Best Feature: Murder Party

Best Short: The Mallorys Go Black Market

Best Animation: The Ballad of Mary Slade

Again, these are my picks (you can see the list of actual winners here).

Overall, I was shocked by the high quality of the films that I saw. Some of the films on the list above were not just the "best of Slamdance," but possibly the best films I've ever seen. These were first-time directors? Wow---they have a lot of talent.

A few final Slamdance-related links:

Patrick Dugan has written a nice feature about his Slamdance experience over at Gamasutra.

Wired Magazine has posted the article about SCMRPG.


[Submit Comment]
by PatrickSunday, February 4, 2007 [10:09 pm]

Did you hear about the documentary jury's attempt to give SCMRPG a special award? True, and perhaps the pearl of the whole scenario.

My picks:

Best Game: Steam Brigade

Best Documentary: King Of Kong

Best Feature: American Zombie

Best Short: The Back Of Her Head (The Mallorys Go Black Market is a good pick, and Duncan actually became pretty good friends with them, so I got to see it a second time and soak in what it was up to. Ultimately, I'm more down for multi-tiered situation comedy than fashion-oriented situation comedy, even if said fashion involves exploiting international cultural descrepancies, which I enjoyed.)

Best Animation: I like the one with the chick who dreamt of being a ronin, that was unbelievable dankness. Maybe it the same name.


by JoEllen MartinsonMonday, February 5, 2007 [6:14 pm]

Hey it's me, JoEllen, co-director of the Mallorys - just wanted to say that "Cow Thief" won the best short award (not us) and we won The Spirit of Slamdance award.


by jcr13Tuesday, February 6, 2007 [7:28 am]

These were my picks, not the actual winners. I'll try to make that more clear in the post.


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