Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Sundance Post



I realize that 5 straight Sundance posts may be a little monotonous, but I wanted to pull back from reviews and do a quick wrap-up of how the festival went this year.

2013 was my second year as a member of the press and I can tell you, it's extra fun when you know your way around. Also, unlike Sundance 2011 where I just wandered around by myself for 10 days (not complaining, it was face melting) I was actually able to meet up with friends and family from time to time this year, which is always nice.

Also, the number 1 question I get about Sundance is always "Who did you see that's famous?" I cannot emphasize enough how little I care about celebrity, except as an extension or a result of artistic talent, so let me merely say "lots" and let's leave it at that.



Movies

This year I was able to see 17 films over a 9-day period. It helped that I now live 30 minutes from park city (instead of the 2-hour drive I took every day while at USU) and thanks to some convenient work scheduling around the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, I was able to spend 4 straight, uninterrupted days basking in the mecca of moviedom (in addition to driving up every night after work. I'm still catching up on lost sleep.)

Of the 17, there was only one flat-out bomb (Ass Backwards) and I generally enjoyed the remainder. If I were to pick a top 5 to watch out for, I would say (in order) A.C.O.D., Don Jon's Addiction, In A World..., The Way, Way Back and After Tiller (already there's titles I want to add to that list. If you want to know more about the individual films click here, here, here and here).



I can say that this year I definitely gravitated more toward the comedies and dramedies, but there were a number of dramas (Two Mothers, Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Breathe In) that I enjoyed very much and you should catch if, and when, you can.

I was also able to do some interviews with the cast of May In The Summer, a perk I usually haven't taken advantage of. Bill Pullman was completely charming and conversational and I made an utter fool of myself trying to question Alia Shawkat.



I also ran into my sister Mandie by happenstance at a screening of Austenland. The woman pictured to my left is the winner of the International Shorts competition.

Austenland is based on a book by Shannon Hale and produced by Twilight creator Stephanie Meyer. The crowd was filled with Twilight sympathizers and we actually ended up walking out of the post-screening Q&A because all anybody wanted to ask the director about was Meyer. Gag.

Music



As always, one of the best parts of Sundance is the live bands that invade Park City as an auxiliary to the festival. Generally speaking I choose a screening over the ASCAP music cafe unless it's a band that I particularly like, which this year was the case with The Head and The Heart.

I love THATH. I saw them last fall in Salt Lake City and while their Sundance set was short (about 30 minutes) it was basically just tightly compressed awesome-ness. They played 3 new songs (they claimed for the "first time" but I doubt it, bands always say stuff like that. They're kind of like bad girlfriends that way) which I can't wait to hear again, and rocked some colossal facial hair and a pimp hat.



On closing weekend, my cousin-in-law's band "Van Lady Love" played a set at Cisero's on main. Of his two bands (that I know of) I had never heard VLL and it was nice to sit down and relax and take in a nice local bar-show. People often ask me what they should do if they "go up to Sundance." Honestly, there's not much you CAN do without either planning ahead or spending some serious coin (or both) but on the weekends you can pretty much bet that any bar on Main is rocking some live tunes.



But the crème de la crème of the music category came courtesy of my BFF (best female friend) Emily, whose connections got us into the Fender Music Lodge on opening weekend where no other than Corey F*ing Feldman was spinning some tunes with his "band" Corey's Angles. I put "band" in quotes because the act consisted of Feldman in a shiny suit, screaming nearly-unintelligible lyrics into a microphone while winged lingerie-clad women swayed from side to side behind him.



The party was a weird amalgam of SWAG. It was apparently sponsored by Fender (free beanies), a potato chip company (our connection to the party), Hatch Family Chocolates (delicious) and some company that makes vegan chicken (don't ask me how, but also delicious).

We caught a good hour of Feldman's set (which included the chart-topping hit "Duh," the lyrics of which consisted mostly of the word "Duh") And, to top the night off, we were able to get pictures with "Mouth" himself.

Bonus



Beside the films, the best thing about Sundance was getting out of the nasty haze in Salt Lake City. We got some snow toward the end, but the first days of the festival was nothing but clear skies and sunshine. The first day driving up, I actually had this weird moment where I was confused and disoriented when the sun hit my eyes. It took me about 2 minutes before I remembered that I had sunglasses in the car and that it was appropriate to use them.



The opening day press conference was also interesting this year. Redford was asked about the Newtown shooting and what role violence in the media played in mass shootings.

It's an old debate, and media people tend to brush it away. But Redford remarked about how often guns are featured in movie advertisements and suggested Hollywood needs to ask itself whether it's ok to use guns to sell tickets.



And, once again, I was able to bookend the festival with one of my favorite events: Film Church. Essentially, on the last day of Sundance, festival director John Cooper and director of programming Trevor Groth host a group small group of festival-goers for a casual discussion on their favorite moments of the festival. They share backstage anecdotes (such as whether or not Shia Lebouf was high on acid) and bring in the winner of the Grand Jury award and essentially shoot the breeze about independent film. It's magical.

I can only hope that I'll be able to get credentials for next year. If not I suppose I'll just have to fork over the cash for a festival package like everyone else (It would've cost me $250 to buy individual tickets to the 17 movies I saw, not to mention the concerts and extra events, so the packages really are a good deal).

Until then, I've got a lot of catching up on Hulu to do.

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