Independent's Day

Docurama, $24.95

Don't let the title fool you: Marina Zenovich's 1998 documentary is a product of the Sundance Channel, so its portrait of the Sundance Film Festival is anything but independent. Even so, it gives you a better idea of what goes on at the annual indie- film revels than you would get by visiting it yourself, because Robert Redford, Parker Posey, Steven Soderbergh, Roger Ebert, Peter Fonda, Martha Plimpton, and Seattle émigré Jeff "The Dude" Dowd wouldn't stop to talk with you in the snowy ski-town streets the way they do for Zenovich. The gist of the fest history is familiar: a handful of films with zero commercial potential at first, then 1989's Soderbergh smash sex, lies, and videotape, then the deluge. You meet young hopeful debutant filmmakers, aging hopeless ones, and made guys like Tom DiCillo, Neil LaBute, and Greg Mottola. You get snippets of their Sundance hits (not enough footage to really give you a taste, though), and reality checks for the starry-eyed, especially from old pro Sydney Pollack.

The big story, Soderbergh's bitter split with Redford, gets hinted at, but you'd learn more by reading Peter Biskind's Down and Dirty Pictures. Zenovich isn't a killer talent, but her movie is an eye- and mind-opener. It's better than 90 percent of the movies I saw at Sundance this year.

Tim Appelo

ALSO OUT JUNE 29, Cold Mountain features a commentary by director Anthony Minghella and interviews with Nicole Kidman among other extras on two discs. (Minghella's The English Patient is also being reissued with more bonus material.) Mel Brooks adds his thoughts to the 30th-anniversary edition of Blazing Saddles—can a Broadway musical be far behind? Before its July 30 movie adaptation, the weird cult TV series Thunderbirds is new to disc. Among artier fare, the Russian Tycoon and the French Le Belle Noiseuse (with Emmanuelle Béart) also reach DVD. Also look for Charles Busch's Die, Mommie, Die!, Ice Cube in Barbershop 2, and a new collection of old Sid Caesar TV shows.


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