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Reeling It In: A Natural Influence of Music in Film and Events at Sundance 2014

The HP Lounge at Sundance 2014
The HP Lounge at Sundance 2014
Nichole Wright and Getty Images

It has been a great couple of weeks for music on the west coast. Sundance kicked off on January 16th, with 10-days of festivities, followed by Grammy Week in LA. Lets talk about what went down at Sundance 2014. My personal favorite film, as well as a musical was “God Help the Girl” which won a special jury award for Ensemble Performance.

The film is based in Glasgow and tells the story of three expats who come together as friends and a music group. It stars Emily Browning, Olly Alexander and Hannah Murray, who perform the songs in the film, at times recorded live. Australian cutie Emily Browning is going to be a star and look forward to seeing more of her in the future.

The film is a moving, heartwarming “coming of age” tale that also explores a handful of modern topics that young adults deal with for the first time - independence, love, self-discovery, expression, friendship, depression and loss. Music makes everything better. It was written and directed by Stuart Murdoch, frontman for the popular indie group Belle and Sebastian, who started writing the script back in 2006.

Belle and Sebastian made a special live performance at the Sundance Music Café (sponsored by AirNB and The Sundance Institute) that was really just the “icing on the cake” as the film was a major focus. It was standing room only, limited to 100 guests. The band is now headed to the studio to create a new album.

The film will premiere next at “Generation Sidebar,” the children's and youth-focused section of the Berlin International Film Festival, on Feb.7.

Another coming of age film that I loved was “Laggies” staring Chloe-Grace Moretz, who clearly steals the show. This time around she plays the teenage daughter of Sam Rockwell. She makes a new friend (Kiera Knightley), who is 28, immature, and running away from a marriage proposal and adulthood. Filmed in Seattle, a product of divorce at 13, now 16, Moretz is also really confused about who she is.

Ten years after high school it is hardly believable that such a friendship would exist in actuality, but it’s true that sometimes adults don’t always have the answers, there are consequences for everything and in real life, many relationships are uneasy. Quotes from a teen at a party "Oh yeah, I've always loved Neil Young" as Knightly comes to the realization she might be hanging with the wrong generation, are worth a laugh.

In the documentary category several films explore the music world, artists and the experiences they create. Under the Electric Sky focuses not on the superstar DJs, but rather, 21 different stories of attendees to the infamous Electronic Daisy Carnival, held in Vegas each year. This group includes a collection of rowdy young guys from Boston, a California fan with scoliosis who attends in a wheelchair, and a gang of party people who are planning a “group marriage.”

Insomniac Events produced the film with founder Pasquelle Rotella. Celebrity wife of Rotella, Holly Madison was seen around Park City with her baby daughter promoting the film. Seasoned filmmakers Dan Cutforth's and Jane Lipsitz directed the picture. Information on nationwide distribution for Under the Electric Sky, shot in IMAX 3-D, is expected soon. On the heels of Daft Punk winning four Grammys, EDM (Electronic Dance Music) is very much in the spotlight. It will be interesting to see if the French duo performs at EDC this year.

The parties hosted at Sundance by Insomniac Events featured wandering acrobats, clowns, men on stilts, circus monkeys, as well as plenty of neon decor and lighting, headlined by a night with Gareth Emory.

These were only a few of the parties that featured DJ’s and EDM artists. Top sponsors of the festival showcased music at their gifting suites and lounges throughout the week. KCRW Music Director and curator, Jason Bentley spent five days holding court at the Acura Prism lounge broadcasting the show “Morning Becomes Eclectic” and hosting various artists, such as Kaskade and Alex Ebert.

On the Tao and Bungalow 8 World pop-up club nights, top DJ’s flew in, such as Nervo, Jesse Marco and Jonny Lennon, with Lindsay Lohan making a cameo on the decks. Crystal Method had a special performance at club Epic, on the brink of their new album release, along with Gabriel & Dresden who also performed at the venue, where you could purchase “oxygen shots” to keep you rockin’ in the Rockies.

Another documentary that attracted awards and attention was “20,000 Days on Earth” which is a voyeuristic look into the elusive life of legendary Australian musician, screenwriter and composer Nick Cave. The film follows Cave as he explains his life and music through old photographs, a therapy session, and conversations with ex-collaborators and friends like Kylie Minogue. Nina Simone, has been a huge influence on his music.

Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, who directed the Cave documentary "20,000 Days On Earth" received the directing award in the category of World Cinema Documentary. Jonathan Amos received the Editing Award in the same category for the film.

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