In 2008, the Windrider Forum brought Writer/Director, Destin Daniel Cretton, and his first film to the Sundance Film Festival, the Angelus award winning short, Deacon’s Mondays (created together with Lowell Frank). In 2009, Destin returned to Sundance, this time with an official entry in the festival’s Shorts Competition, Short Term 12 (produced with Michelle Steffes). Now, in 2012, Destin returns for the third time, along with his first feature length film, I Am Not a Hipster, a drama set in the indie music scene.
Destin will be honored on the opening night of the 8th annual Windrider Forum @ Sundance as the recipient of the 2012 Spirit of Windrider award.
His Sundance journey parallels Windrider’s surprising run at the festival. Launched as an experiment in 2005, the Windrider Forum brought a group of students, faculty, and guests to the festival to have a conversation at the intersection of faith and film. That “experiment” has now become the premiere immersive educational event at the festival. And each year since 2005, Windrider has hosted a half dozen young award-winning filmmakers, including Angelus winners like Destin, to celebrate their work and allow them to network, learn, and dream at Sundance, about the ways that they can develop as artists, filmmakers, and storytellers. Destin took full advantage of that opportunity since his first Windrider experience. The Sundance Film Festival is all about discovering new talent, and Destin has emerged as one of the promising young talents in the film world.
Destin grew up in Maui with five siblings in a religious home that had concerns about the content of TV and movies, but with parents who encouraged his imagination and creativity. He completed an undergraduate degree in mass communications at Point Loma Nazarene University, attended the Los Angeles Film Studies Center where he was mentored by Windrider co-founder, Craig Detweiler, and then completed a graduate degree in filmmaking at San Diego State University. He launched a film company, Flagpop, together with his college buddy, Lowell Frank, and produced several short films including Deacon’s Mondays (2007),Drakmar: A Vassal’s Journey (2006), Bartholomew’s Song (2006), and Longbranch: A Suburban Parable(2002).
Destin’s thesis film at San Diego State University, Short Term 12, premiered at Sundance in 2009. Each year more than 5000 short films are submitted by young filmmakers hoping to make it onto the dance floor. From that list 96 are selected as entries in the competition. Breaking through those daunting odds, Destin along with Short Term 12’s producer, Michelle Steffes (a graduate of Taylor Univesity, one of the participating schools at Windrider), who became friends one year earlier as guest filmmakers invited to participate in the Windrider Forum, decided to work together on the film and submit it as an entry to Sundance. The concept for Short Term 12 emerged from Destin’s work at a residential treatment center as a young adult. The film is a crazy, roller coaster, “typical”,day in the life, ride with the staff and kids at this treatment center. It is honest, gritty, and painful, yet filled with compassion, empathy, and even humor. It highlighted Destin’s skills as a storyteller to introduce us to characters who were so broken and yet so likeable.
Short Term 12 rose to the top of the long list of short film entries in 2009, taking home the award as the best of the best, the US Jury Prize. Craig Detweiler in his Purple State of Mind article on the film interviewed one of the Sundance judges, celebrated indie actor, Lou Taylor Pucci (Thumbsucker, The Answer Man, and The Go Getter) who praised Cretton’s ability to create characters that were believable, troubled, and yet still empathetic in the brief span of his 22 minute film. Said Pucci, “Many features don’t display the same level of depth.”
So, it is against the backdrop of those high expectations that Destin returns in 2012 to Sundance with I Am Not A Hipster, his first feature length film that promises not only an entertaining ride into the unique indie music scene but also another look at the complexity of the characters who inhabit this world.
I Am Not a Hipster is already garnering some of the pre-Sundance “buzz” that could make it one of this years’ break out successes. The film’s look at one narrow slice of the San Diego culture, resonates with local culture commentator, Nada Alic. In her blog on the film she also identifies the universal appeal of the film, “Hipster explores the San Diego indie music scene in a raw and incredibly human way – the hipster walls come down, exposing vulnerable young adults struggling with lingering adolescent malaise and grappling with their dysfunctional relationships. Real life stuff.”
Each year, we honor an individual who embodies the heart and soul of Windrider, individuals whose skills, creativity, and courage are shaping the cultural landscape. The talented and unique collection of Spirit of Windrider recipients have included Heather Rae in 2009 (Director/Producer of Sundance Grand Jury Prize winning film, Frozen River), accomplished veteran Director/Producer, Ralph Winter in 2010 (whose vast body of work includes four movies in the XMen series, two Fantastic Four movies, and Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes), and Jeff Sparks in 2011 (founder, president, and CEO of the Heartland Film Festival and Truly Moving Pictures).
We are honored to add to this impressive list the 2012 Spirit of Windrider award-winner, Destin Daniel Cretton, who returns to the Sundance Film Festival for a third charmed time. We’ll let his new film help us to decide whether or not Destin qualifies as a true hipster, but his four year run at Sundance has demonstrated that he clearly embodies the spirit of the Windrider experience.