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Films with a Message: Really?
by Karen Pecota

My press credential allowed me to attended the 2010 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, to celebrate the new independent films to hit the open market for possible distribution, or not. The festival has been in existence for over twenty-six years and, because of its influence, we now see the independent (Indie) films advancing rapidly into the motion picture industry’s mainstream. Six Indie films and/or their people, seen at Sundance 2009, were nominated for an Oscar prize that will be given at the Academy Awards ceremony, March 7, 2010: The Cove, An Education, Precious: Based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire, The Messenger, Miracle Fish, and Instead of Abracadabra.

I had the privilege of interviewing the award-winning, Seattle-based filmmaker, Lynn Shelton, with reference to her MTV documentary series, $5 Cover: Seattle. We talked mostly about the project sponsored by MTV, which caught the eye of the festival’s The New Frontier section showcasing non-film artists and their creations that could be used for film. Shelton’s project is made specifically for the internet fanatic, consisting of twelve 10-minute web cam episodes featuring twelve local Seattle bands, yet to be discovered. One can still go to hear their music live for only a five-dollar cover charge, the premise of the feature. At the time of the festival, Shelton’s film was in post-production but she brought three film clips to present during a panel discussion which I attended with my husband. One of the Seattle bands featured in the project, The Moondoggies, attended the panel discussion. Shelton was very proud to showcase their work as she was delighted to advertise that they would perform live at some of the festival music venues. In two of Shelton’s clips shown, we (my husband, Steve and I) recognized and jokingly commented on one of The Moondoggies Seattle stomping grounds near the Spirit filling-station, where we live. A fun discovery!
Another film she brought was a dialogue-free visual presenting a real life dilemma The Moondoggies encountered with groupies. The eight-minute episode addresses what happens when a groupie gets too close to one of the married band members. Impressive was the respectful approach with which Shelton set up the scene. She effectively conveyed the message of the band members by sharing their view about this truly precarious aspect within their profession. One has to be alert to respond appropriately. One has to have solid friends to offer protection. She brought to light the importance of setting proper boundaries so that what is held dear to the band is neither taken advantage of, nor destroyed: friendships, marriages, families and their music.

It seems like Shelton’s discovery is a revelation that applies to all walks of life now, doesn’t it?