Sundance 2013

Those of you who have been to Utah must know of its extreme natural beauty. Northern Utah is home to the jagged Wasatch mountain range, a region where most of the terrain is awesomely untamable by man. But, at 40.6461° N, 111.4972, it slides down to 10,000 feet above sea level and the rocky mountains give way to a giant playground, Park City. It’s an adorable mountain town with countless ski slopes that seem to drip down from surrounding peaks, pouring stimulated adventurers into cozy bars and restaurants.

In my opinion, Park City is the perfect place to host a gathering of creative minds during the world’s most influential film festival, Sundance. For LAers, it’s a quick 1-½ flight from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, and a 50-degree temp drop; Definitely further for the New Yorkers but all must brave the slippery drive up the canyon and into the knarly Wasatch Mountains.  This is when us city folk can finally enjoy some fresh air, and LAers can get goofy while playing with their visible breath, or maybe that’s just me.

I lived in Park City for a winter a few years back, and I have Sundance to thank for my growing LA life. It was my first Sundance, 2010 and I had fallen for the passionate people that had journeyed from our world’s well-known dreamy city, Los Angeles.   After living inside the walls of Manhattan,  one season just wasn’t enough time to get over my obsession of the wild wild west terrain, and the feeling of expansion you can take in on top of a mountain or cliff. So, as the snow started to melt in winter 2010, I skipped my flight back to NYC and made a run for sunny California, for the first time.

3 years later, I now return to Park City to see my friends, burry myself in the World’s Greatest Snow, and of course, indulge in Sundance Festivities.  It’s a quick and spontaneous trip for me, and aside from laughing with my good PC friends, challenging myself and releasing specific built up cravings on the slopes and through the forests, I am here in search of my new favorite film of 2013.

Upon my immediate arrival, I hitch hiked my way from Salt lake City Airport and straight to the Egyptian theatre on Main St in the heart of Park City to get my hands on a 2013 Sundance film list. I snagged the last one they had and when I look back on that moment now, it plays out in my head that I ran with it, hid behind a tree, opened the book, and colors full of knowledge exploded in my face. But really I just J- walked across the street sliding on ice into my old drinking joint, the No Name Saloon.

In this over ambushed pub, I actually scored a seat at the bar, ordered me a tasty local draft Amber beer, an anticipated Bison Burger with homemade chips, and started my search for a film I know will torture my heart and expand my mind.  As a 2nd year Sundancer, I’m down to chat it up and get opinions on films from complete strangers.  I, personally am not as influenced by others opinions, mostly because I know my mind tends to go a different direction. But this doesn’t really matter, as we all automatically have one thing in common, love for the art that has brought us all here, on this week.

The sounds inside the No Name Saloon today are gobble gobble blah blah when mixed together, but If you listen and interact, we are critiquing the next upcoming film generation, and celebrating our hierarchy by being the first to view these extraordinary films, selected from over 10,000 submissions this year. More than 100 films and documentaries will premiere all through out Park City during these 11 days of Sundance, and they are carefully chosen to cover the publics personal fascination. The hot topics today here at the bar are stories of forbidden loves and dark tales, which is no surprise to me. I agree, such stories are intriguing but I see enough of that in my life in Downtown Los Angeles. I’m looking for a film that will take me away from this picture perfect setting and reveal our complete contrast.

I read up on a few films here that remind me, of me, and the way I touch base with life outside US borders. But as I continue on, I come across a photo of a south Asian boy on a caramel brown river. The noise surrounding me seems to mute in existence as the summery jump-starts a journey in my mind. 

“A River Changes Course.” Directed by the authentically beautiful Kalyanee Mam

Prospector Square Theatre, Wednesday  @ 8:30 am.

I pass the book around to those who have been reading over my shoulder, call over the bartender and spend the rest of my day/ night  party hopping, drinking free sponsored booze, networking, dancing to new and upcoming musicians, and ending the night with a classic rock star show, Courtney Love- Live.

The next morning I open my eyes into continue darkness. My Photographic eye has officially warped my body clock, training me to wake before the sun to catch the morning light. I take advantage of my new development, bundle up, grab my best friend (my Nikon D80), and a dog, and go for a walk about. As the sun rises; moose, mountain lion, huge white hares, and all the creatures of winter come to life to watch the show.  I used to think that the reason the colors that the sun reflects in the west were so magnificent was an act of ginger terrain. But this morning everything is covered in a white blanket of water crystals, and still The Sun Dances with the clouds around the mountains like the soul mates they are, even after millions of years together, screening colors only nature can style.


As my shutter flips over and over, the moments change so momentarily and when the pinks and oranges start to give way to greens and blues, I surrender time, pay my respects to Nature, then run home to my friends because I know they are up brewing coffee and getting ready to go into town, and I need a ride.

Film “ A River Changes Course.”

I am granted just enough time to make my connection, when the lights turn off again and the film, and the lives of modern day Rural Cambodians are truthfully  exposed.


I don’t know if its because I have lived with similar cultures and life styles in Peru and Thailand, but I feel like the film traveled me to Cambodia,  enlightening me as I connect with my brothers and sisters that I love, but don’t know I exist.

 It’s amazing how human bounderies have arranged our world.

 The film gave me a sense of Time Travel. And I wonder, do they know how we live here in America?  How much would it hurt them if they knew how unfair this world is? Could they possibly fathom our resource waist?  I don’t necessarily think we have it better in first world countries because we have materialistic things that are supposed to make our lives easier and more fulfilled. But losing loved ones and loved natural environments to almost modern day slavery, greed, and new illnesses from unstoppable human forces, seems devastating to the heart, in which to me, I fear would be the ultimate death.

This insightful film can travel you to Cambodia and reveal another world, if you let it.

 My faveorite quote of the film was spoken by a loving mother of the village, Sav Samourn, “ We used to be afraid of wild animals, now we are afraid of humans. “ Does that sound like a famous last quote before the end of an existence to you? Think about human history, isn’t this when the good in this world starts to dissolve, again?

 “ A River Changes Course,” a Migrant Films Production won the World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, in support with many positive write ups, reviews, and quotes that enhance the Film as they should. It is brilliant in many ways. But in my write up, I want to acknowledge the real reasons why KALYANEE MAM and her team spent many years of their life devoted to the cause. I don’t think it was to win prizes, impress people with their creative cinemetagraphy, and build their production company name. It was to lead a movement, a change.

This time, let us try, letting those involved in this project inspire us, not necessarily the film. Our world is full of issues, becoming more environmentally based these days. Because of people like Kalyanee, we have been given the power of knowledge and awareness through media like this film, but is it making a difference? Are people really changing their ways for others? I don’t think so, humans can be instinctively selfish. We have to know we are helping ourselves, bettering ourselves by bettering our world. It’s a good feeling for sure that may be enough to seduce us.

Let us focus on becoming more like these leaders who have the needed heart; that are the people capable of saving this world.  And our world will naturally fall into a better space, and will continue it’s blessings upon us.

Michael Wysocki. Hermanoearth











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