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Monday, January 19, 2009

Sundancing: A view from Park City, Utah and the Sundance Film Festival

Posted By on Mon, Jan 19, 2009 at 8:45 PM

click to enlarge PARK IT: The Egyptian Theatre, central location for all things Sundance
  • PARK IT: The Egyptian Theatre, central location for all things Sundance

Greetings from the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Throughout the next week, Creative Loafing will have an exclusive look into the 25th edition of the country’s largest and most prominent independent film festival, live and direct from Park City, Utah.

“Exclusive look” means one of our employees was dumb enough to drive 1,863 miles to fight paparazzi, snow, wind, 12-year-olds, Nick Cannon, and every manner of plague in an effort to partake in one of the finest gatherings of film culture in the world. That person would be me, and I’m looking forward to guiding you through a journey of tragedy, humor and hours upon hours of watching for celebrities.

I would like to present myself as a film expert or veteran critic like CL’s very own Curt Holman, but I’m not. Curt could take my lunch money and write circles around me should he see fit to do so. I’m 26, have a budding interest in film and have a lot of time on my hands. Transformers was on my top 10 of 2007, which I’m contractually obligated to divulge so as to lower your expectations. I do, however, have a passion for independent film. This is my second year at Sundance and I’ve been reviewing movies since 2001 for various newspapers. So, welcome to the rodeo.

As I post this entry, I’m sitting in Davanza’s Old Town Pizza. It’s a throwaway pizza joint that you wouldn’t look at twice other than to count the snowboards and skis sitting on the front porch. It’s off Main Street in Park City, which means it’s as close to the Sundance action as a seat in section 437 at Turner Field is to Chipper Jones. It’s a spot for people that either already know its here or are just looking for cheap food.

I’m in the latter category. I’ve been staying in Salt Lake City since Thursday, Jan. 15, the opening night of the festival. Since arrival, I’ve watched eight feature films, four shorts, attended two panels and I even popped in Wall-E at the place I’m staying just to pass the time.

Reviews and stories will be coming shortly. It’s impossible to consume that many films, most of them emotionally draining, without hitting a wall. I’m actually crying as I write this post, and I don’t even know why.

Sometimes pizza is the best thing for an empty stomach and improved mood, so Davanza’s to the rescue. Sitting in the exact spot two days ago, I saw Michael Cera of Superbad, Juno and Arrested Development fame, walking down the street with his girlfriend. Right now, I’m watching Steelers vs. Ravens and being asked to lean over so a tall British man can have a place for his skis.

That’s how Sundance goes. One minute you’re sharing pie with the rich and famous. The next, you might as well be a coat rack. Please enjoy our coverage of this event for those moments both big and small.

I’ll leave you with this. Last night, I walked down about a mile of icy sidewalk to the Library Theater to get in the wait-list line for Black Dynamite, the one film I hold in the most-necessary-to-view category. The wait began at 9:30 p.m. and the screening started at 11:30 p.m. That’s two hours of freezing temperatures just to hope for a whiff of a ticket. There are no guarantees. But there is hope.

And whether you’re a filmmaker/producer trying to sell your entertaining yet difficult-to-market masterpiece to a studio or just a coat rack, hope is something you’ll find plenty of here.

The trailer for Black Dynamite, starring Michael Jai White:

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