By Kyle | January 26, 2010
Here at the Sundance film festival, each feature is preceded by an animated short of a minute or two that illustrates one theme or another of the SFF. One of the most frequently shown ones, “Rebel,” begins with the 2008 presidential red-blue electoral map. As techno-rock plays, the states start to thrust and dance and change colors — until every color is purple. The word “REBEL” flashes again and again and then is replaced by this, hilarious, title: “Dare to Come Together.” Ah, so rebellion equals conformity. If the country is in safely Democratic hands. Whatever happened to opposing the establishment? Joining it may or may not be smart, but it certainly isn’t daring or rebellious. Sorry, lefties: You don’t get to play it both ways.
I was thinking about this while perusing the Sundance program, which is stuffed with films that say Jihadists are really just sweetly endearing goofballs (“Four Lions,” a satiric “comedy” from the UK), that terrorists are people too (“The Oath”), that the military shamelessly exploited Pat Tillman (“The Tillman Story”) or that Iraq vets are mired in disillusioned despair (“The Dry Land.”) At the opening press conference, Robert Redford opined, “We don’t take a political side. I might personally — I have and I will — but not the festival.” Er, what? Just a couple of minutes later, an English reporter asked Redford whether, since the Sundance Film Festival had done such a good job of illustrating “the danger of the Bush administration” and clearly served as a “resolute form of political opposition, do you still see it the same way?” Redford’s answer: “Yes.” He added that “telling stories that are hard to get out…it’s a form of social activism. So yeah, we are committed to that.”