I've just returned from the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where I serve as a board member. I met daily with directors, talent, and supporters. As always, it was dynamic and exciting. And, as always, the festival showcased scores of extraordinary films. Some hilarious, some heartbreaking; some fantastic, some frightening; and some that are sure to be commercial hits in the months to come.
Yet, my most cherished takeaway from Sundance this year is something I hadn't anticipated. I was joined at the festival by my 22-year old son Brett, a designer who works in New York. Seeing Sundance through his eyes gave new meaning to the experience for me.
We shared the thrill of witnessing great storytelling on the screen; films like Filly Brown, directed by Youssef Delara and Michael D. Olmos, about a young, female rapper from Los Angeles, who tries to break into the recording world to help her struggling family. The actress Gina Rodriguez -- already pegged this year's "It" girl -- deserves to be the next breakout star.
Or, Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap -- Ice-T's documentary about the roots of rap and the creative process that brings it to life. As a classical violinist, I admit the genre was foreign territory for me; but like the rest of the audience, our heads bobbing in time, I was impressed and entertained by the dozens of hip-hop legends in the film, their personal testimonies and their poetic force.
Of course, there were many other films that made for good discussions around the dinner table. But what stuck with me most was the way these movies enabled me and my son to connect. Like many parents, I'm constantly working on the art of communicating with my kids. At Sundance, my son and I experienced the joy of communicating with each other through art.
Brett was personally affected by the drive, the passion, and the ambition of the artists at Sundance. He felt the electricity in the atmosphere as he walked Park City's streets; he felt every filmmaker's intense commitment and desire as they described their intentions and aspirations. He was moved and motivated by the way these men and women expressed themselves through their work -- eloquently, intelligently, emotionally, and spiritually -- weaving their creative insights into stories that others could share.
It was impossible not to recognize, as he said to me, that these artists are "doing what they love." And it filled him with hope, as a young designer, that his life's work could be its own reward.
As Sundance Institute founder, Robert Redford, has said, "Storytellers broaden our minds: engage, provoke, inspire, and ultimately, connect us." That was true for me and my son Brett this week. May artists bring us all together, all year long.
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