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Saturday, January 17, 2009


Mark and I drove into Park City, Utah just before midnight on Thursday, January 16. External car temp read 19 degrees. As we wind through old town Main Street to get to our temporary home, I’m amazed at how many people are out on this freezing opening night. There are lots of partiers. Too many who are wearing shortsleeves and 5 inch heels. Who can do that?

Now it’s Friday morning. We have to rush over to the Yarrow Hotel to pick up our industry passes that will allow us to see and participate in almost every thing at the festival. Lucky for me, this is Mark’s 10th year at Sundance. And, his rental car is a huge help in getting around.

I have a couple of objectives for Sundance. First, to soak in as much “industry” as I can. Another is connecting with possible distributors for “Magic 7”, a green project and live action animated fable originally created by Roger Holzberg.

A third objective is to be immersed in the creativity and artistry of well crafted films. In that regard, Friday is a success. Three films in one day and my attention never flags. First film of the day, “Lymelife”, is a coming of age tale set in the late 70’s, written by Derick and Steven Martini about their own lives growing up in Long Island. It stars Rory Culkin, Alec Baldwin, Jill Hennessy and Cynthia Nixon. Both the telling of the story and the acting are brilliant.

Next up, “Cliente”, from French writer/director and actress, Josiane Balasko. Tagged as a comedy, it explores the complications of a relationship between a 51 year old female entrepreneur and her gigolo. I thought it was emotional and sad.
Last film of the day was “Humpday” from another female writer/director, Lynn Shelton, starring Mark Duplass from “Baghead” and Joshua Leonard from “Blair Witch Project”. Lynn tells the ultimate tale of male one-upmanship. It was very funny. Produced with a spare cast and crew, it was tightly written and well acted.

You can feel the recession as a subtext of the festival. The big question for many filmmakers is, will their film get picked up? The industry has suffered not only from the economic down turn but also by fundamental changes in the business model. It’s a big topic this year as evidenced by one panel's title, “The Panic Button: Push or Ponder”. Peter Broderick, our housemate and an expert on alternative distribution is one of the panelists.

Parties are a big deal at Sundance. I'm hoping they provide the opportunity to network. They're all invitation only. Mark RSVP’ed us for “The Green Party” held in a huge tent in the middle of Main Street. It supports the “green” films at the festival that include “Dirt! The Movie”, “Old Man River”, “The Cove” and “Crude”, all documentaries and all on my list. The entertainment at the party is a mesmerizing multimedia mix of electronica, belly dancing and video imagery. The crowd, not so interesting. I bailed after an hour and headed home for sleep.

Home, by the way, is a converted 1880’s Swedish Lutheran Church very conveniently located a block off Main Street, downtown. The picture at the top of the page is from the common area. The house is actually cozy with its six stained glass windows, unusual floor plan and eclectic mix of furnishings. It provides the perfect backdrop for this Sundance 2009.

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