The Color Always Blooms Upstream

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Park City Sunrise

Today was our final day here in Park City. We finished off our 12-run movie week (13 for some of us) with Before Midnight and Upstream Color.  Both films fall into my favorites of the week. After returning to our hotel mentally exhausted from the long week, a few of us sat in the hot tub tonight reminiscing, sharing our highs and lows from the trip.

Aside from films, we came to the conclusion that we had the most fun just hanging out with everyone. It turned out to be an awesome time of fellowship and discussion for the 7 of us. From my perspective we all seem to know each other a little bit better and we will all definitely miss this time together.

One of the things that really struck me throughout the week was the way in which films move us. Its something that I have thought about a lot since becoming a film major but the fact that we subjected ourselves to between 3 and 4 films a day really accentuated this idea.

Whenever we watch a film (provided that we are engaged with it) we give authority to that director to take us where he/she wants us to go. The better the film, the more we feel what the characters feel. Though this sounds basic, it is amazing to think of how powerful the medium of film is. We are essentially giving our emotions to the control of someone else. We experienced this in some way or another for most of the films we saw this week; feeling emotions such as love, happiness, hopelessness, anger, relief, forgiveness, gratefulness, the list goes on. Its a weird but exciting prospect to be moved in such a way.

I would have to say that most every film this week was great in some way or another (there was one, maybe two, that did not cut it for all of us), but I would like to quick talk about my two favorite films of the week. Circles upon its first watch, was a beautiful depiction of forgiveness and redemption but its interweaving story left me amazed yet slightly lost at the end. A few of us went to see it again and the second viewing was so much more powerful.

The themes became more evident and the idea of our potential impact on those around us rose to the surface with emotionally invigorating force. Upon exiting the theater for the second time I was amazed at the impact this film had on me.

I had the opportunity to talk to the director and snag a picture with him.

My other favorite film of the week was Upstream Color and this is one that will be sure to divide audiences. Shane Carruth, a Christian, brought his debut feature Primer, to Sundance in 2005 and received the Grand Jury Award.

After an 8 year break his cult-following (including myself) was thrilled to hear about his world premier of his second film, Upstream Color.  Sitting through this film is an incredibly visceral experience. It’s abstract form, Malick like cinematography, pounding melodic sound design, and visual parallels make this a one of a kind experience that is better felt than understood. It’s not until after the film ends that the narrative begins to fall into place. Like the trailer says, “You can force your stories shape but the color always blooms upstream.”
– Christopher Behnen


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