A formidable new generation of American film-makers are currently in their prime: Paul Thomas Anderson, Alexander Payne, Sofia Coppola, David Fincher, Spike Jonze, Wes Anderson, to name but six. Call them ‘The Sundance Kids’. . .
A conspicuous number of these talents first kick-started their careers in the workshops of Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute in Utah; or made the big time after screening their work at the Sundance Film Festival. Nowadays, acclaimed movies such as Payne’s Sideways , Jonze’s Adaptation and Coppola’s Lost in Translation have got people talking of another Hollywood ‘golden age’, not seen since the so-called ‘New Hollywood’ of the 1970s spearheaded by Scorsese, Altman, and Sofia Coppola’s father, Francis.
In this comprehensive study, James Mottram traces the roots of this new generation to Steven Soderbergh’s sex, lies and videotape - a low-budget tour de force that premièred at Sundance en route to conquering Cannes and, indeed, persuading some of the ‘Sundance Kids’ to first pick up a camera. Mottram proceeds to analyse each director and their oeuvre, placing each carefully within the context of the ever-changing landscape of American cinema over the last fifteen years.
Mottram also explores the ambiguous meaning of ‘independence’ at a time when most of these young mavericks find their financing through specialist subsidiary arms of the Hollywood studios. But he also draws the needful comparisons with that ‘golden age’ of the 1970s, when free-thinking directors used studio funds to further their own idiosyncratic visions. As such, he poses the question - are we witnessing The New Hollywood, Part II?