Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Rebecca Daly’s Mammal makes it to Sundance

The Irish director flies the flag at the prestigious event

Wed, Dec 2, 2015, 22:11


Sundance waxes and wanes. But at present its influence is stronger than ever. Every year, at least one of the films that attracts attention at the snowy event ends up making waves 12 months later at “awards season”. Brooklyn started its journey there and has looked like a likely best picture nominee ever since. The excellent Tangerine just won best film at the Gotham Awards and is all over the nominations at the Independent Spirits.

So we are happy to relate that an Irish film has made it into the World Cinema section at this year’s Sundance. Hats off to Rebecca Daly’s Mammal. Moving into similar territory occupied by her pal and compatriot Toni Colette in Grassland, Rachel Griffiths plays a Dublin mother who befriends a homeless boy after her own son dies.  Barry Keoghan, Michael McElhatton and Nika McGuigan also appear. Fastnet Films, who also produced Rebecca’s The Other Side of Sleep, will be delighted by the news. We had hoped to see Conor Horgan’s The Queen of Ireland in the documentary section. It’s a very “Sundance”film. But in the programme it is not.

Being a genuine festival of discovery, Sundance is a hard event to preview. Few of the directors have anything like a track record yet. Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan’s Swiss Army Man has Daniel Radcliffe falling in love with a dead body. The actor Clea DuVall moves behind the camera with a “therapy movie” entitled (what else?) The Intervention. So Yong Kim’s Lovesong makes use of Jena Malone and Riley Keogh. In the documentary sequence we will see Author: The JT LeRoy Story, an examination of the invented literary persona who bore that name. Elyse Steinberg’s Weiner looks at the strange self-destructive career of politician Anthony Weiner. Oh we don’t know. Sixty-five features make their debut this year and, from this distance, any one could turn out to be the next Beasts of the Southern Wild or the next Sex Lies and Videotape.  “I think we’re at a place where audiences are really telling us what they’re up for,” Sundance director John Cooper said. “And I think they’re up for a lot more than we’re giving them a lot of the time.” Peruse the full list at Variety.