Love Child director Valerie Veatch and producer David Foox at Daily Buzz Saturday. Photo by Brian Brooks.
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Sundance continued in full throttle Saturday as festival goers were greeted with bright sun en route to screenings around town. Film Society's The Daily Buzz again spoke with filmmakers debuting their new films on Main Street, with Episode 3 devoted to the harsh reality of an unreal virtual world in Valerie Veatch's Love Child and the tribulations of youth in Kat Candler's Hellion and Michael Tully's Ping Pong Summer.
"I was shocked to get programmed again, I couldn't even speak," Valerie Veatch said to The Daily Buzz host Eugene Hernandez. Her directorial debut Me @ The Zoo_ screened at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and has returned with Love Child, premiering in the festival's World Cinema Documentary Competition. Veatch looks at the little understood addiction of gaming and living in a virtual world. In 2010, South Korean baby Sarang died of malnutrition, which was a result of her parents devotion to online games. The case was treated as straightforward child neglect, but Love Child examines the circumstances that lead to their addiction and expands the story by examining how Korea's place as a center of internet innovation has adversely affected its communal society.
"We're in a time where our emotional connections are existing in the virtual space," said Veatch. "There was a schism on where they were drawing their reality from. They had lived in a virtual world and neglected their real life child."
Hellion filmmaker Kat Candler had her World Premiere Friday night and was still feeling the emotion from the screening at the Library Center venue in Park City. "It was pretty magical. Oh god, I cried. It was a pretty emotional day," she said on The Daily Buzz. "It's something I've been working for for years. I think my husband described it as 'the big wedding day.'" Hellion centers on 13 year-old Jacob who is spiraling out of control. He pushes his family to the brink of collapse and things get worse when he makes his younger brother, Wes, an accomplice in his delinquency. Things are further complicated as their father, Hollis, is reeling from the death of the boys' mother and has all but abandoned his sons. But Jacob and Hollis must strive to come together after Child Protective Services swoop in and remove Wes from the household and the estranged pair work to get Wes back home. The film evolved out of a short of the same title that screened at Sundance in 2012.
Ping Pong Summer director Michael Tully at Daily Buzz. Photo by Brian Brooks.
"I had no expectations beyond this six page short, but through the process I fell in love with these characters," she told The Daily Buzz. The project received a boost after it went through one of Sundance's filmmaker labs in addition to support via the San Francisco Film Society and IFP's No Borders program. "Sundance help alone was worth a million dollars," said Candler. "And on top of all these wonderful development programs the community we shot in Texas rallied around us..."
Michael Tully is also a returning filmmaker at this year's Sundance, debuting his latest Ping Pong Summer with Susan Sarandon at the festival. Set in 1985, the film is a love letter to the coming-of-age comedy set squarely in the decade when hip hop was born. "It sounds generic, a shy 13 year-old boy in 1985 goes to Ocean City, MD with his parents and falls in love with a girl," Tully told The Daily Buzz. Though Tully has a few films under his belt including 2011's Septien, which premiered at Sundance, he nevertheless landed a titan of the big screen, Susan Sarandon for his feature. "Are there any other Oscar-winning actresses that owns a ping-pong club?" asked Tully, referring to Sarandon's stake in a popular ping pong venue in Manhattan.
"I reached out to Jay Duplass is a friend and asked if she was cool. Honestly I'd rather make a mediocre film with great people than a good one with a bunch of assholes. The calling card for me was Septien. She dug it and thought it was funny and cool and she took the plunge."