Slamdance 2016 Preview: Meet The Filmmakers, Part 1

U.S. Editor; Los Angeles, California (@benumstead)
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The reason I consider the Slamdance Film Festival a high priority on the fest circuit can be summed up in one word: Discovery.

While most press mention fest alumni like Christopher Nolan, The Russo Brothers and Lena Dunham, I'd like to highlight that just three years ago, first-time feature director Matt Johnson made the most subversive and smart film to play in all of Park City. The Dirtiest went on to win the Slamdance Grand Jury Prize, catch the eye of Kevin Smith, then took Johnson and his tight-nit Toronto crew right to the doorstep of Lionsgate. They are now premiering Operation Avalanche in the NEXT category at Sundance.   

Today, I welcome you to discover a handful of fresh filmmakers from across this
year's intriguing slate who were nice enough to fill out a little Q&A I concocted. Make sure to come back on Wednesday for part 2. Plus, on Thursday, Jeremy O. Harris and I will post our Top Picks for the fest.

The 22nd Slamdance FIlm Festival takes place in Park City, Utah at Treasure Mountain Inn, January 22 - 28.

Nathan Williams, IF THERE'S A HELL BELOW - Narrative Competition

Tell us about your film, but not in a plot-centric way, please…

You have to trust someone.

There is no more vital question in our lives today, no question that more defines who we are and what we do than this: who do you trust, and why?

If There's A Hell Below cuts into you with this basic question but offers no simple answer. It’s no coincidence that “if” is in the title--there’s very little you can take for granted. The film is a waking nightmare: a story about not what has happened or will happen but what can happen.

So take a seat, put the car into gear, and keep an eye on your rear view mirror…

Share with us a pivotal cinema related experience or moment for you

Seeing Gilliam's The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen on opening day in 1989. It's a hot (beautiful) mess of a film, but it made me realize that I was put on earth to do this. The good Baron telling tall tales in that decrepit theater as the city disintegrates--as vital a case for art as this eight-year-old was likely to see.

Why Slamdance?

It's the premiere festival for truly independent American cinema. It also is where the matriarch of Seattle film and a personal role model (Lynn Shelton) debuted her first feature.

Your essential Park City survival kit:

Wool watch cap. Thorogood boots. Meerschaum pipe. Four good friends who made the whole thing possible.

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