Saturday, January 25, 2014


I've never been into movies.  I'm probably the only Generation X-er who stifle yawns at the mention the so-called “cult classics” like “Star Wars”, “Lord of the Rings”, etcetera, etcetera.  I can't help it.  They bore me.  They really do.  And after spending a weekend at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, I've come to terms why.  I don’t hate movies in general.  I just find very little to appreciate in box office, mainstream, hyper-commercialized storytelling where brand-name artists headline the credits with an embarrassing multitude of zeros succeeding the first digit of their paychecks, where special effects (sometimes) overcompensate for any evidence of acting and photography.  It's the same reason why I don't patronize Starbucks.  Their coffee is atrocious. 

I jumped at the invitation of a friend from highschool to join an all-girl ski weekend at Park City, Utah for the opening weekend of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.  Yes.  That Sundance.  I did not have any expectation of what that experience would be like and I realize that my imaginings could never have trued up to the actual experience anyway.  At a certain point on Sunday, I felt about ready to explode with sensory overload of too many beautiful visceral things.  Film.  Music.  Conversations.  Snow.  Skiing.  Farm-to-Table Food.  Great Coffee.  Great Free Coffee.  Swag Everywhere (the kind I actually want to have and take home).  

Unapologetic and audacious.  Slow, dry, morbid, garish, grotesque.  It doesn't matter.  The point of independent film is integrity.  Granted that we operate in a capitalist society, independent films redeem the grit and soul lost to the blinding, lustful desire for a box office hit.  Indie films are a counter-sellout.  They are created for the mere sake of creation.  And what comes out, however painful and excruciating others could find it, is something 100% honest.  And damn right beautiful.  All the time.  Regardless. 

I have come to love it because I respect it.  

Time to augment my profile.

Interests:  Farmer’s markets.  Strong coffee.  Mid-century modern chairs.  Independent Film.

Australian horror "Babadook"' director Jennifer Kent with lead actress, Essie Davis and producer, Kristina Ceyton
So this is how Sundance works.  There are 100+ independent films, documentaries and shorts being screened all over Park City, UT for the two-week duration of Sundance Film Festival.  Unless you paid hundreds or even thousands for a credential pass, you are not guaranteed to a screening.  If you're part of the general public, to attend the screening, you have to reserve a spot via an eWaitlist system two hours prior to the desired screening.  This just gives you a spot in the line but does not guarantee you entry.  You show up half an hour at the theater and stand in line with crossed fingers (bundled up, of course) and hope the theater doesn't fill up to still accommodate eWaitlisters.

What is special about watching these films at Sundance is that after the screening, either the director, producer, lead actor/s, or all of them come up on stage and answer questions from the viewers.  It's a rather extraordinary experience because it humanizes the often inaccessible creative collective genius behind a film.  Could you imagine bumping into Van Gogh outside his museum, shaking his hand, and being able to ask him what inspired a masterpiece such as "Starry Starry Night"?

We had a couple of unsuccessful attempts, but did manage to get in a couple of screenings, including the world premiere of "War Story" starring Catherine Keener (pictured below with the directors, writers, etc. of the film).

"War Story" creative genius Mark Jackson, Catherine Keener, DOP, co-written by Kristin Gore, daughter of Al Gore (he was there and we got to shake his hand)
If you cannot get into a film, hyperactive minds, do not fret.  The event producers and sponsors got you covered. If only for amassing swag, a couple hours meandering down Main Street is worth it.  Otherwise, there's the Slamdance Film Festival across the street from the Sundance Channel Headquarters on Main Street.  Their melange of films that seems more avante-garde than the Slamdance ones.  I say this after watching a German subtitled black-and-white that is more grotesque for my taste, but I appreciate that the artistic integrity of it has not been diluted nor compromised.  

Free Italian espressos and cappuccinos in a reusable to-go cup you wouldn't be embarrassed to take home!
Mix and mingle, use the free wi-fi and enjoy some free snacks at the Sundance Channel HQ
HP tent plays 70's and 80's DJ music every night
AirBnB Haus for free coffee, hot chocolate and the raddest playlist!

Celebrity sightings are cliche.  I'll settle for interesting people watching.  
I am an advocate of sensible solo female travel.  I had a whole day to burn solo.  With nothing but a genuine politeness, I was able to get in a credentials-only music event featuring a roster of talented indie acts.  The stage was small and the Music Cafe probably only accommodated a crowd of a couple hundred. This is one of the best parts of my maiden Sundance voyage!

Savoir Adore from Brooklyn was a joy to watch, enough for me to create a Spotify playlist since.  The band handed me a free album after exchanging a few words.

Here's the rap duo, Moors.

And a new favorite of mine, The Mowgli's from SoCal!

And as if there's nothing else to occupy your time at Sundance, there are the slopes, which is half the reason why we came after all.

Food at The Farm at the Canyons Resort is stellar!
We're already planning on an encore next year, perhaps even as volunteers.  Park City is a small town, yet coming for Sundance weekend, with plenty of opportunities to ski in between, it is pretty evident that it has the both of both worlds.

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