while a crowd of two million crammed into our nation's capital on a sunny but frigid January 20th to witness the largest Presidential Inauguration ever... While 3,000 brave souls stood in the Times Square frost recreating the magic of election night, eyes glued to the jumbotrons above... While restaurants across the country rented their own wide screens for patrons taking extra time off during lunch to witness history... It was business as usual in a small Utah town. Sure, many were decked out in fashionable Obama tees, but in Park City, not even the new President could truly share the stage with the festivities at hand. Sundance was in full swing.
Despite the extraordinary celebration in DC... Despite the extraordinary injustice of not having Under the N nor Sodom by the Seaon this year's schedule, "Brooklyn Luke" of the BkA fam was still in Mountain West country to cover some of the events.
The Brooklyn Luke Diary:
This was my first year going to Sundance, and though it was said that it was a relatively "low-key" year, it didn't strike me that way. OK, well not in comparison to the Coney Fest or even Tribeca. For me the whole thing was kinda like that old Entourage episode. Minus some of the Vinny Chase perks that is. But within minutes of landing in Salt Lake City, my brother, Brooklyn Bobby, spotted Pierce Brosnan (a very underrated James Bond, by the way!) at the airport - he walked right by us. I myself missed him. I have a particular ability to not notice celebrities, even when in close proximity with them. Once I bumped into John Travolta (forever Brooklyn Tony to us S.N.F. fans) and was completely oblivious until told so after the fact. In any case, after a 30 minute van ride filled with amazing post card views, we were at the heart of it all, Park City, Utah!
Twenty years ago, except for maybe Robert Redford himself, who'd ever think that a New Yorker would ever utter that last phrase?
On the surface, Park City is a quaint little ski resort town, but the mood changes during Sundance. In addition to the skiers and locals, there are throngs of the ubber hip, all rocking pricey designer shades and the latest in LA gear. Obviously they look foolishly out of place on rustic Main Street, but the locals seem to have gained a high tolerance for the SoCal set. In any case, the crowds meld, and a positive energy is high everywhere.
As one can imagine, the primary day and nighttime activities are film screenings and parties. Good thing too since there aren't any black diamond trails in Prospect Park. The screenings are filled with enthusiastic fans, and even the most hardened of locals seem to catch a bit of of the electricity that's in the air.
After double checking the massive Sundance Catalogue which is splattered everywhere in town, there is still no mention of "N." None of "Sodom" either. In fairness, according to the catalogue, each accepted film appears to be a masterpiece that could become Oscar worthy in another 13 months. Later my brother and I find that this is not the case. Such is the way of film festivals. The list of also-rans is disappointingly great.
Still, not to appear petty (ya know we are) or pick on the weak, we'll just say that the doc Prom Night in Mississippi really was as good as advertised. Also, to be completely frank, we couldn't get close to scoring seats for the bigger screenings like Push and Humpday, so they too might be worthy of the darling status they received as well. Speaking of darlings, much buzz centered around Brooklyn's Finest, a cops gone wild flick written by former MTA worker, Michael Martin. Martin, a dude from our neck of the woods, and the film's director, Antoine Fuqua, had the honor of being this year's first to land a distribution deal.
As far as parties go, there are lots. On the other hand, Utah, being under the control of Mormons, has some pretty ridiculous liquor laws. Note to all New Yorkers, or non locals: Load your luggage up with your own secret stash because the bar scene here is a joke. Every drinking hole has a device measuring exactly one ounce of alcohol per each drink - no doubles, no harder mixed jobs, like Long Islands, not even sidecars on the table. As a result, every bar, pub, restaurant serves dwarf-size martini glasses. There is a flip side, however. These laws also mean that it is extremely difficult to hold a private party with a cash bar. Because of this, nearly all the private parties at Sundance are open bar and free admission. The one problem - getting in. Most work off guest lists, so it obviously helps knowing people affiliated either with the showcased films, companies sponsoring the festival, or industry big shots like, Vinny Chase. Failing that - or if you don't know anyone on the list for a specific party - my advice is to look like a face and waltz right in. Deciding not to get shut out of the parties the way we were for the bigger screenings, we did just that. When not finding a crowd to slip into or a back door to slide through, we simply walked right past the bouncers. Unlike back home, this worked surprisingly well for us in Park City. One night it got us in a party where we downed Jager shots with a wasted Paris Hilton, Slash (anyone remember G-N-R?), and the hot girl from Lost who's name escapes me. Hardly the A-List, but still quite surreal in feeling and a big step up from the bar at the Minneapolis Midtown Sheraton where the TCUFF held their after party.
The one time this didn't work for us was during our last night there. Standing in front of an unforgiving bouncer who might as well have been working a Meat Packing District hotspot, things sorta came full circle for us. Pierce Brosnan stumbled past us and into one of the bigger after parties. Apparently, a bit intoxicated. I wouldn't know, as I didn't notice him. Though I may have caught a glimpse of the back of his head this time. Either way, the doors closed behind him and this time there was no getting in for us. Not this year at least. Maybe me, my brother, Pierce, the bouncer, and the entire BkA clan can laugh about it all in two year's time for the premiere of Brooklyn Atlantic's, The Quebec Connection. Think I already promised the female lead to that Lost chick, but I'm betting that her memory is just as blurred as mine.*
UPDATE - February 18th, 2009: What a coup! 20 year Sundance director, Geoff Gilmore, the man who took Robert Redford's sleepy Utah indie fest and made it the most important festival in all of America has suddenly stepped down. Reported here in theSeptember '08 Rant, Gilmore had called Sundance (due to its over commercialization) a "den of vipers." The Los Angeles native, who spends much of his free time in China, is on his way east. But not that far east. Instead, he's coming to Tribeca to head Robert De Niro's glossy (not so) indie fest. Tribeca, what we call a "den of garter snakes" is in dire need of a shake up and look forward to the changes Gilmore is sure to bring.