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Sundance Film Festival – Animated Australian Feature Mary and Max Opens the Festival


The 2009 Sundance Film Festival began with an opening-night screening of Mary and Max, a full-length stop-motion animated feature by Australian director Adam Elliot, an Oscar-winner for his 2003 animated short Harvie Krumpet. Before the movie began at the Eccles Theater, the public face of the Sundance Film Festival, Robert Redford, shared some thoughts: “Nerves. Angst. Worry. Pain. Panic. Fear. I’m not talking about the Festival — although you might think I was. I’m talking about what’s going to be exiting the national stage on Tuesday. What’s going to be coming to this place is change, and change is in the air. … Change is of course inevitable; it can bring good times, and it can bring bad times, but although we may have had the worst of times, there’s no reason to think the times coming have to be so filled with dread that we can’t look for some spot of optimism and hope… there’s always some space for opportunity, and I’m thinking that this could be a very inspiring time for artists. …”

The festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary, and some cynics have questioned whether the opening night selection of Mary and Max was a way for a 25-year-old
dog to prove it could still execute new tricks. Festival Director
Geoffrey Gilmore, speaking after Redford, was quick to say that
wasn’t the case: “Did I choose it because it’s animation? No. Did I
choose it because it’s Australian? No. I chose it because it’s great.”

Director Elliot put in his own two cents about his movie, the first Australian
film and the first fully
animated one to open Sundance. Explaining
how everything in the world of Mary and Max
was “tangible,” with no computer trickery or digital effects, he added, “The rain
was fishing line; the fire was red cellophane… and for water, we
used 50 tubes of sexual lubricant.”

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