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Take Two: Hammond And McCarthy Talk The Highs And Lows Of A Sundance That Was A Welcome Return To Normal

By Pete Hammond, Todd McCarthy

Sundance Reactions from Pete Hammond and Todd McCarthy

Note: Deadline presents the 48th episode of its video series Take Two, in which Pete Hammond and Todd McCarthy tackle the artistry of films just opening in theaters every weekend. Each has reviewed and written about the craft for decades and built a remarkable breadth of knowledge of films past and present. What we hoped for when we asked them to do this was a concise, mature and thoughtful conversation comparable to what we saw from Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel.

The Sundance Film Festival, which wrapped last weekend, was back to a sense of normalcy for the first time in three years after being forced into being a virtual festival for its 2021 and 2022 editions due to the pandemic. But everyone returned to Park City and it was just like old times — with the exception of a new feature that actually was born out those pandemic-affected editions.

In addition to the live screenings taking place on the ground, the festival had a well-run online edition with most of the movies available the next day after their in-person premieres for press and public consumption, a real plus for those unable to make the trip to Utah. Because of that, both of us were able to not only review several films along with our colleague Valerie Complex, who was filing directly from Sundance (some set up in screening rooms in Los Angeles before the fest started) but also catch others online we may have missed otherwise.

In this week’s Take Two, we look at the highlights and lowlights of the cinematic output of this year’s Sundance, as well as sharing a few stories of past Sundance experiences. The bottom line is this was a very promising return to the independent movie scene, one damaged heavily due to the pandemic, and hopefully it means things might be looking up. Certainly there were some big distribution deals already announced, and we add to those by championing some other Sundance movies this year that deserve to be more widely seen.

Click the link above to watch our conversation.

Hammond has been Deadline’s Awards Columnist for the past decade, covering what now seemingly is the year-round Oscar and Emmy seasons. He is also Deadline’s Chief Film Critic, having previously reviewed films for MovieLine, Boxoffice magazine, Backstage, and Maxim, as well as Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, for which he was a contributing editor. In addition to writing, Hammond also hosts KCET Cinema Series and the station’s weekly series Must See Movies.

McCarthy is a veteran trade publication film critic, columnist and reporter who has also written several acclaimed books and documentary films. He served two stints on the staffs of Variety and The Hollywood Reporter and extensively covered film festivals internationally for both publications. His film Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography won the best documentary prizes from the New York Film Critics and National Society of Film Critics associations, and he won an Emmy for writing the documentary Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American Dreamer. He also directed the documentaries Man of Cinema: Pierre Rissient and Forever Hollywood.

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