5 Ways to Sundance 2017: The Critic

“It’s hard to know which of the Films is going to be most obscure. But for me that’s one of the more fun parts of the festivals.” – Michael Mejia

Michael Mejia’s love of cinema is rooted in his earliest memories. One of Salt Lake magazine’s film critics and a professor of creative writing at the U, Mejia says, “Some of the biggest films that were coming out when I was a kid were The Sting, The Towering Inferno, The Three Musketeers. Seeing films like those really shaped my expectation about what film should be.” Mejia went from awestruck kid in Sacramento movie houses to an awestruck grownup at Sundance Film Fest.

Mejia takes a counterintuitive approach to picking Sundance films. “I’m most interested in seeing the films I’m pretty sure I’ll never have the chance to see again, or at least the ones that are not likely to be bought and widely distributed,” he says. “It’s hard to know which of the films are going to be most obscure. But for me that’s one of the more fun parts of the festivals.”

One way to be certain you’re seeing something you may not get the chance to see at The Tower Theater in a few months is to choose from Sundance’s World Cinema dramas and documentaries, says Mejia. “They tend to have sparser crowds, generally. And they also deal with local issues [in other countries] unlikely to gain a larger audience.”

Mejia also keeps an eye out for groundbreaking NEXT films. “NEXT is specifically for filmmakers who are pursuing new directions in narrative cinema,” he explains. “I always see two or three of those films if I can fit them in.”

Most anticipated movies:
Machines and Plastic China

Know the steps. Park City or Salt Lake? Doing the Sundance hokey-pokey.

“Things only show once in Salt Lake—they show two or three times in Park City,” says Mejia. “But, people in Salt Lake are fortunate that so many of the filmmakers come down to Salt Lake City for screenings. In fact, a lot of people say they love to come to Salt Lake for a Q&A session so they can hear how non-industry people view their work.”

And, Mejia says, Salt Lake is home to his favorite Sundance venue, the Tower Theater. “It just feels like the place that film festivals should happen,” he says. “I like the character of the place and everyone is coming in from the cold, so it smells like wet wool. Plus the master of ceremonies at the Tower is just the best.”

Follow our Sundance coverage online and on Instagram and Twitter with #slmsundance.

written by: Christie Marcy

Christie Marcy
Christie Marcyhttps://www.saltlakemagazine.com/
Christie Marcy is a former managing editor at Salt Lake magazine. Though she writes about everything, she has a particular interest in arts and culture in Utah. In the summer months, you will find her at any given outdoor concert on any given night. In the winter, you will find her wishing for summer. Follow her on social media at @whynotboth.

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