Laura Linney and Phillip Seymour Hoffman deal with dementia in The Savages
Although not the last day of the festival - the winning films will all be screened across town tomorrow - this was the last day of the press interest and we had the chance to catch The Savages and Year Of The Fish. The Savages covers similar dementia ground to Away From Her, although this time with a black comedy approach.
A son (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and daughter (Laura Linney) find themselves saddled with the bad dad (Phillip Bosco) they have barely seen for years, after he begins to lose his memory. They put him in a home and the film deftly deals with the sort of guilt trip which faces many people these days, with a lightness of touch and a rich vein of dark laughter.
Year Of The Fish, on the other hand is a modern day fairytale. An updated twist on Cinderella, it hits a slightly odd note in that Cinders works in a massage parlour. That said, the performances are good and An Nguyen deserves particular credit as being one of the most seen actresses at the festival, attending a host of mixers and generally getting right behind her film. She's a talent to look out for.
Then it was just a case of sitting it out until the Awards ceremony, which is held in a sports hall converted for the proceedings. Somehow, one of us ended up in the main auditorium, while the other was in the cheap seats. I'm not sure why Sundance do this, since the overspill room was virtually empty - there were only around 30 of us in a room that would have easily sat at least 200 - and we could have all fitted into the main room by all accounts. It seems to me it would be better if they filled up the main auditorium first, on a first-come, first-seated basis and then used the secondary room for the overspill, rather than making half of us feel like second-class citizens? But what do I know?
Unfortunately, the coverage in the second room was fraught with glitches too - ironically for a film festival, the filming of the prize giving didn't work for the first 10 minutes and, even when they got the camera rolling, it never moved, so that as those in the main room watched a round up of the films that were in competition, we were treated to the sight of Festival Director Geoffrey Gilmore, standing side on clapping. But it isn't really fair to complain too much, since the main thing is to see the awards handed out and, curiously, those of us looking at them on the big screen got a better view of the acceptance speeches.
You can read about the winners here.
After the awards had been dutifully dished out, it was time to party, with the drink of the day being 'fire martinis' - no relation to Flaming Homers. These strange potions, served in fluorescent blue cocktail glasses including the added magic ingredient of dry ice. This made them froth steam like something out of a Hammer Horror Film - we were alarmed enough to stick to beer, although one of our cohorts did admit to "swallowing a piece". Urk.
One great thing about the awards ceremony this year was that virtually all the winners were in attendance, and happy to stop and chat to us. We spoke to David Sington, left, who won the World Cinema Audience Award for his documentary In The Shadow Of The Moon, about the Apollo Space Programme, Jess Wexler who won a Special Jury acting prize for Teeth and Sean Fine, co-director of documentary War Dance.
Also, in a break from previous years, the food was plentiful, with everything from sushi to ice-cream on offer. It was a fitting end to what has been an excellent festival, with the range of films winning awards showing how strong the field has been. Between us we've seen 36 features and five shorts. Our personal favourites? Son Of Rambow, Clubland, Snow Angels and Crossing The Line. But virtually all the movies have been interesting and packed with emerging talent. We hope you've enjoyed reading the daily reports - look out for the rest of our reviews from the festival coming as soon as we've thawed out. Hope you'll be back for the big film freeze next year, we certainly will be.