Sundance Film Festival 11 – Video Games In The Spotlight

It’s that time of the year again. What time you ask? The time of year when aspiring film makers get together at one of North America’s great indie scene movie festivals, the annual Sundance Film Festival to be more precise. Hosted in Salt Lake City, Utah, it’s every hopeful movie-maker’s dream to succeed at this event. Many of today’s biggest Hollywood film makers had their humble beginnings at this prestigious festival, amongst which are Steven Soderbergh and Quinton Tarantino. Some of the movies which gained fame at this festival are The Blair Witch Project, Little Miss Sunshine, Reservoir Dogs, SAW, and Napoleon Dynamite.

From 20 to 31 January 2011 we saw some truly inspiring work come from this popular movie outing, but for the purpose of this article we will look at a topic which is close to our hearts – video games. Yes, the 2011 Sundance Film Festival boasted with quite a few video game-themed projects and even a panel where members of the press (and public) could interact with the writers of such games as Alan Wake and Uncharted.

So it would seem that video games are really in focus for independent film makers. We have collected a trio of video game short films to show what talent we can expect from the future film-makers of Hollywood. Have a look at them after the jump.

8 Bits

As a child of the 80s, this little gem really struck home with its nostalgic look at those 8-bit games we knew and loved. 8 Bits is a wonderful short film co-directed by Valere Amirault, Sarah Laufer, Jean Delaunay, and Benjamin Mattern and displays just how talented and expressive the people of this day and age can be. Using Autodesk’s Maya and the Fracture plugin, 8 Bits with its engaging graphics and visual effects puts even today’s 3D animated films to shame. I certainly hope this group of film-makers get the chance to further their careers.  To find out more about 8 Bits and its creators, head on over to www.8bitsmovie.com

Pandemic 41.410806, -75.654259

The next video-game related film is one called Pandemic 41.410806, -75.654259, yes that’s the full title according to its entry. It forms a part of a much larger universe of on-going stories which, according to the synopsis, involves a virus which has turned two children’s mother into “something else”.  It certainly has some dark undertones and reminds me a lot of video games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill in its execution.  Essentially, the story involves film, mobile, online, social gaming, print, and real world interactions. What I can gather about this is that we can expect to see this franchise growing into something quite large towards the end of the year. Keep an eye on this one.

Who’s that? Brooown!

This short film is actually a music video, albeit for a very bad rap song, but still, in my personal opinion, very well executed.  It’s the music video for a rap group called Das Racist (I don’t think they’ll do well in South Africa’s political climate) and the song is called Who’s that? Brooown! Directed by Thomas De Napoli, it tells the story (in the form of an 8-bit video game – which is also playable, see below) about how these Brooklyn-based rappers are called in to replace Jay-Z and Justin Bieber at a concert after their shared stretched Hummer is hit by a meteor shower (WTF – right?).

You join the very odd duo on their adventure, fighting off yuppy gentrifiers on the New York subway, ducking golf balls flung at them by a pseudo-Tiger Woods, and crossing the East River without being hit by cars (jumping from trash-boat to trash-boat, phew!). All of this while avoiding Sarah Palin (who is wearing a bikini).

This video draws a lot of influences from some of the greatest NES and PC classics.  Some of the ones I could recognize were Elevator Action, Leisure Suit Larry, Double Dragon, Frogger, Zelda, and Tetris.  There are a few more, see if you can spot them too.

If you love the classic 8-bit games and you would like to try out the Who’s that? Brooown! game, click here. And check out the Das Racist web site below if for some unfathomable reason you like their music.

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4 Responses to “Sundance Film Festival 11 – Video Games In The Spotlight”

  1. prawn1 February 3, 2011 at 12:11 am #

    I’d have to say 8 Bits is certainly my favourite. Who knew a stumpy chap in a pair of boxers could dish out massive damage!

    Pandemic is unnerving, it reminded me of Ju-on and its creepy soundtrack.

  2. NiteFenix February 3, 2011 at 9:21 am #

    I would have to agree. I really loved the first Grudge movie, can’t say that I’ve seen the Japanese iteration though. The second and third movies I literally just sat and laughed my way through.

    • prawn1 February 3, 2011 at 9:38 am #

      I’ve always found J-horrors like Ju-on, Dark Water, and Ringu to much creepier than the US remakes. I’m more frightened by the unseen terror as opposed to the US versions which seem to be more about in-you-face blood and guts.

      • NiteFenix February 3, 2011 at 9:40 am #

        It’s funny how these little yellow dudes know how to scare the living crap out of people, I mean have you seen some of these Anime shows? Holy crap!