Living Park City (Part III)
Wherein there are not enough hours in the day, nor enough tickets available to satisfy the basic yearning for film Category: Festivals
Date: 19 January 2003
Get up. Got another day today.
With apologies to Joe Jackson, this is what Park City looks like to me. Rolling out of bed at an hour I?m not used to, having whatever hotel?s assembly line breakfast (that description is perhaps too lenient, but I actually like them), checking out if I need to as I hop between hotels, off to the first Sundance screening - which seems surprisingly easy ? then standing in lines or stumbling around the various sub- and micro-fests that pop up here, rinse, repeat, catch some unhealthy food when I think of it, then roll in (after checking in, if necessary) for less and less sleep each night ? I think it was under five hours last night. Surprisingly, I?ve only nodded my head handful of times in one film so far.
The Eccles Theater, sans ravenous crowd
The first Friday is probably the worst day for watching films on a last minute basis. The town is already flush with people, and none of the alternate fests have opened yet. Every single seat was sold long ago. I was able to wait list into the second movie at Eccles, The Mudge Boy, fairly easily, because it was morning. But I got in line for The Singing Detective at 3:30, perhaps a hundred people back, and stubbernly stayed in line until I saw something, which ended up being People I Know at 9:30 - a six hour wait. And honestly, if the whole line were as stubborn as me, I wouldn't have seen anything.
I?ve caught films at two of the alternate fests, including the Slamdance opener, Easy Riders and Raging Bulls, a documentary on the vast changes in the movie industry in the sixties and seventies, based on the book by the same name. This one does not yet appear in the IMdb, so a review will have to wait a bit (but not too surprisingly, everything from Sundance has already been entered). For the record, it?s packed with information, but seems to wander from its base of analysis into a jumbo-sized E! Hollywood Story. The main Slamdance screening room must have suffered from heat issues in the past (certainly some venues around here do) for they rigged up a low end air conditioning system with two portable A/C units called Move-?N-Cools and some makeshift ductwork. I found it a little chilly myself, so perhaps they've overcompensated a wee bit.
Slamdance Co-Founder At Large Dan Mirvish, and the makeshift A/C in the background
Slamdance is the most succesful of these other festivals, but they're still a fairly skimpy shop. The start of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls was delayed quite some time as they figure out how to project the film with the right aspect ratio.
can this thing do portrait vs. landscape too?
Also, I dropped by the Lost Films Fest and caught some of their less mainstream material. I walked in on a documentary on what is called DIY music, typically punk bands that tour the country by playing in basements of fans. Then there was a seven minute trailer for a documentary on 2002?s Burning Man festival, narrated by Timothy Speed Levitch, who was present to help raise completion funds for the full length version. Next came a bad, bad message short out of Baltimore from an alternative/art community called Anarchy Carpet, wherein a guy in a carpet suit goes around extolling the virtues of anarchy. It has all the planning of a used gum collection, and suffers from extreme message movie syndrome. The short Pussies And Faggots Unite was an interesting union of black and white footage and animation, bolstered by some introspective thoughts on growing up in a male culture based on machismo ? the effort was good, but seemed to be aspiring to heights it didn?t quite achieve. The best of the bunch was the anti-war short Videotaping The Apocalypse from Gorilla News Network, kind of a music video montage of news clips following September 11th, 2001 ? both clever and smart in letting their targets reveal themselves through their own words.
There?s also Sundance sponsored panels here, on a variety of topics. I?ve caught two so far (another one was cancelled, which is why I?ve been able to catch up on the writing a bit today). There?s some useful information here for filmmakers, more so than in smaller festivals as there is a more professional crowd in Park City, but I sense a bit of uncertainty from the panelists about how much to assume the audience already knows.
I found a nifty gadget in the Eccles which will transfer an application to your PDA (PalmOS or WinCE) that contains the whole Sundance schedule. It?s a great idea, and since I carry a PalmOS device, it would simplify what I?m carrying in my pockets but for one thing: there?s no view equivalent with the timetable all the other publications have, which is really what I need. I get out of a film, and if I don?t have a ticket for anything right away, I need to know where to go. Perhaps they?ll have that figured out by next year.
The number of festivals gets bigger and bigger, so much it probably is impossible to keep track. I?ve seen new references to SheDance and X-Dance, and another non-dance fest that escapes my mind at the moment.
Sundance has really only just started, with seven days to go. Slamdance and Nodance both run films well into this coming week too. With all of the tickets I bought Thursday for times yet to come - sixteen films - I'll be squeezing in more films from all the festivals, now that the first weekend's crowd will have left town. Watch for new reviews here. They're lagging behind a little bit, but I should be able catch up now with a stable hotel room.
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