It’s safe to say that Elisabeth, our PR and Events Manager, is a lover of cinema. She took every film class that her school offered while in college, flew out to Nice only two hours after her college graduation to intern at the Cannes Film Festival, and attends the Tribeca Film Festival nearly every year. Within the office, she keeps us all updated on what’s going on in the world of cinema and is always the first to give a movie recommendation when needed. Some time last year, Elisabeth made a goal for herself to attend a new film festival every year . . . Sundance was at the top of her list. Late last month, she packed her bags and headed to Park City, Utah for her first Sundance Film Festival. When she returned, we asked Elisabeth to share her experience with us.
Set among the mountains, Park City was designed to be the anti-Hollywood destination for a film festival. Dress is casual, the people are incredibly friendly and down-to-earth, public transportation is free (a foreign concept for this former New Yorker) and the view of the mountain range grounds the entire production. The idea is to focus on the films, not the typical Hollywood pomp-and-circumstance. Yet some of the biggest “little films” make their debut in what was intended as a humble festival. Little Miss Sunshine
remains a bright moment, when an independent film launched to rave reviews at Sundance and went on to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.
In my five days, I attended 12 screenings, including an intense day with four screenings. There are a few rare moments in every festival that show you what art is capable of, and leave me motivated to do better in life, at work, with my creative pursuits, everything. I was lucky to have a few of those moments this year, the first during The Skeleton Twins
. The Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader movie is ostensibly about suicide and infidelity – not particularly uplifting. In the midst of the overall melancholy atmosphere of the film, there’s a moment of levity when the two former SNL stars break into a lip sync of Starship’s 1987 hit “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”. Simply, it’s genius. It fits the tone of the film, plays into the strengths of the actors and has a little twist midway through that just gets you. I wanted to leap from chair.
A Serbian film, The Disobedient
, surprised me. I knew it would be a pastoral film with little dialog. I was prepared for a visual treat and little more. Rather than focusing on standard plot devices and typical narration techniques, the film focuses more on the interaction between characters. Watch it, be open to it being different and wonderful. The director and her two leads revealed during the Q&A that the three are best friends, that the film was a complete experiment; you could feel how intensely personal the film was. As the theater emptied out, each attendee hugged the director and actors in a spontaneous receiving line. We had all just shared in something special. This is what Sundance is all about.
That’s not even all of it. I Origins
was my favorite film of the festival – a must-see. I hope it gets picked up and widely distributed. I caught Zach Braff’s second directorial effort, Wish I Was Here
; his first, Garden State,
is one of the reasons why I decided to pursue writing.
We hit the slopes in our free time; you can’t sit in a movie theater the entire time! And naturally we caught the Ludacris concert while in town. If you’re a film enthusiast or simply looking for something different and awesome to do, make your way to Sundance. Below are some tips on Park City so you get right to the good stuff.
Toronto, I’ll see you in September 2015.
WHERE TO EAT
Chubasco – humble and delicious Mexican joint, a Sundance secret
High West Distillery – great scene, known for their whiskey cocktails
Shabu – delicious sushi and Japanese
Dafanza’s – chill pizza spot, small and full of atmosphere
Café Terigo – located at the heart of Main Street, very homey
WHAT TO DO
Canyons Resort – skiing at 10,000’ for the novice and pro
St. Regis Deer Valley – stop in at 530PM for their sunset champagne sabering ceremony
Park City Live – check their concert line-up, be prepared for the main act to go on at midnight
The first half of the festival offers premieres, parties and much more celebrity activity. The second half is perfect if you’re more serious about catching the films.
The altitude will get you but is easy to overcome by drinking water and catching an extra hour of sleep.
Public transportation is free and easy, parking is a nightmare. A rental car is unnecessary. Skip the $100+ cab in favor of an airport shuttle. I made friends in the shuttle; we ended up watching five films together.
The Hollywood Reporter, cover story on Sundance 2014 & Robert Redford
Three-minute recap video of the festival this year