Wednesday, January 24, 2007
How To Sundance
The cliche, in this case, turns out to be quite true: everyone living in Utah really is a white, middle-class, heterosexual Mormon family.
When running behind schedule for a screening after sleeping late, the ability to brush morning breath from your teeth while driving 65 m.p.h. down winding slippery snow-crusted highways is a skill well worth nurturing.
Should your cinematic hero David Gordon Green happen to sit on the same shuttle bus as you, remain calm. Do not wet your pants, no matter how enjoyable that might be. Quickly but firmly approach, conveying how much his films mean to you and what an honor it is to meet him. He will be humble, polite and will shake your hand. Retreat as fast as humanly possible back to your seat. When the woman sitting next to you asks, "What filmmaker is that you were speaking with?", try to refrain from weeping.
Abstain from disembarking off the shuttle at the same time as David Gordon Green: it will lead him to think you're a stalker. If this is unavoidable, bury yourself in the festival program, giving him a few seconds head start to be in front. Sadly, things take a turn for the worst when you find yourself walking right alongside him again a few blocks later; worse, he catches you looking at him. Pretend to be distracted--whoa, there is something really super duper interesting in that shop window across the street! Speed up, passing him in a dramatic fashion as a reassurance that this has all been one big coincidence. Chartering a zigzag path doesn't help: shockingly, you suddenly find yourself right next to him yet again a few minutes later! Holy fuck, how does this keep happening? Eventually, you will have to duck into the festival headquarters to finally and truly avoid walking next to him. Later, fantasize that he relates this run-in with a crazed fan to all of his movie genius buddies as they sip Meisterbrau in the lounge of their private-membership cineaste salon.
When driving between the Sundance Resort and Park City, be sure to seek out the woman selling blankets from her front porch in the quaint town of Heber City. These handcrafted gifts all bear the likeness of various favorite childhood characters: Mickey Mouse, Dora the Explorer, Barbie and...N.W.A???
That Peter Zaremba look-alike you saw on the street the other day turns out, in fact, to be god-like filmmaker Chris Smith. You don't understand this, of course, until later in the day when he makes an appearance for a screening of his latest effort, The Pool. Wait in line to speak with him after the film ends, sulking further when you only have enough time to ask what song played on the soundtrack over the credits. He promises to post the tune on the movie's website but this statement is only meant as an abrupt conversation closer. When leaving the screening of this excellent new film, refrain from slapping the women next to you who--knowing nothing of Smith's background as a documentary filmmaker--complains that it was "too slow" and that "nothing happened".
If you happen to blank out on the name and filmography of marginally interesting queer filmmaker Gregg Araki as he scurries past you, it's best to be accompanied by an aspiring filmmaker friend with few inhibitions. He is more than eager to shout out, "Hey! Hey, you! Did you make The Doom Generation? And what's your name?" The notorious filmmaker seems amused by this arrogant and ignorant outburst; the boyfriend standing next to him, less so.
If you are a frightfully hip young man from L.A, with artfully coifed blonde hair placed just so, a good way to project just how much more evolved you are than the teeming masses sitting amongst you in the theatre would be to continue wearing your expensive brand name sunglasses as you enter the auditorium, taking great care not to remove them until just before the lights go down. You should also take great care to avoid the blogger watching you from two rows away--if he catches you alone outside, he's liable to take those sunglasses and shove them so far up your ass, you'll have to call in a search team to find them.
Because you are movie star hunk Paul Rudd, your ears will burn due to the excited shrill conversation about you between three high-pitched sorority girls who spied you strolling down the street earlier in the evening. Although the encounter with you probably took all of 30 seconds, their recounting of this brush with fame will stretch for a little over an hour.
It's not unusual to find Protagonist, the new film by Jessica Yu, surprisingly accessible because of its direct emotional core. A seemingly simple exploration on the practices of character development handed down from ancient Greek dramas (all enacted by puppets), it's the interspersed personal stories of four real-life men reflecting on power, violence, hubris and redemption which has you bawling tears of empathy. Don't be embarrassed--everyone around you is crying, too.
When flying home, don't be afraid to speak with the diminutive gentleman behind you, taking off his shoes for the X-ray machine. It's comedy legend Bob Balaban and he's the nicest man in the world. He'll accept your compliments gracefully and engage you in a friendly conversation long after he had en excuse to end it. Both the talents and the warmth of Bob Balaban make the world a better place.