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Sundance Journal 2004

January 17, 2004
12:30am
Festival Day 1 (not counting opening night)

Movies seen: 1 documentary (about Icelandic elves,) two narrative
features (one about a single girl looking for love, one about a
suffragette girl looking for the vote), two shorts (one about two
teenage boys in love and another about fairy tale heroines in a group
therapy session.)
Best swag so far: Mac lip gloss, chocolate flavor
Donuts eaten: 1.5
Blood sugar: 118

Hi everyone!

I'm finally sitting down and writing my first dispatch from Sundance
2004. You should all be terribly flattered to know that this year I am
writing solely for our mutual pleasure - which means you won't get one
of these every day, just when I feel like it, much to our mutual relief.

I've been here for a few days now doing training and setting up our
venue The Filmmaker's Lodge and generally getting acclimated and
comfortable. Sundance is great as usual, sort of like a really cool
geeky summer camp. And it's like I never left. Park City is gorgeous and
sunny and the mountains are covered in snow. Lovely and warm during the
day and a bit colder at night. For all of you freezing on the east
coast, I won't tell you that I stroll through this rocky mountain town
every day with my jacket open. Oops - did I just let that slip out? And
what a fine jacket it is! Kenneth Cole is again our sponsor for
volunteer and staff clothing and we received a very fetching vest and
ski jacket, both red and black, to wear as our uniforms.

I'm sharing this year's luxurious ski condo with four other women, and
it's complete with the requisite hot tub in the back yard (which I've
been diving into because I am aching from too much dancing at our
volunteer party). The hot tub is somewhat more exciting for our backyard
neighbors, due to the fact that it's on the back porch in clear view of
everyone else's windows. My housemates and I may or may not be
entertaining the folks next door with our morning dips. One of my
housemates is a vegan and another is on Atkins, so negotiating the
kitchen has been very interesting. The Atkins gal keeps burning incense
to kill the sausage smell (which, by the way, doesn't work). My poor
vegetarian self has been caught in the middle. I'm even being made to
turn on the fan when I cook eggs. Do cheese omlettes really smell?

I have this premonition that this year will be very mellow. I'm not sure
why, but so far the most exciting thing I've done after midnight is
checking my land speed. Which means: walking home from a house party the
other night, a few of us came across one of those traffic thingies that
measures and displays an oncoming car's speed for the driver. We were
curious how fast we could run so we took turns barreling down the road
at the thing. We all clocked 9mph over and over again before realizing
that was probably the lowest it went. Much hilarity ensued. I know this
is a boring anecdote, but there you go. My life in Park City so far.

Because two of my housemates are also my managers, we were worried we'd
have to be on best behavior - they are the ones who will be firing us if
we have any outside people in the house overnight. But my boss Robina
said we should feel free to do so as long as bodily fluids were
exchanged. Seeing as we are spending our late nights running at speed
measuring devices, it all seems quite moot.

Bob (Redford, as opposed to DeNiro) came by the Lodge today for the
official welcome party. I was at a movie and missed the whole thing. I
am so jaded, darlings, if you've seen Bob once...etc etc. For those of
you keeping track, the first choice of stalking material this year is
Indian actor Naveen Andrews who stars in "Easy" (that film about the
girl looking for love...she finds it with him, if briefly) You may
remember him as the Sikh hottie in The English Patient, or the royal
hottie in Kama Sutra. Or perhaps you will remember him as my future
boyfriend. Don't tell Kirby Dick or Jake Gyllenhall. It will break their
hearts.

Heading to bed now. A shout-out to birthday girl Patty. Hope you got
everything you wanted for your special day. Stay warm.

Love,
Therese (too tired to think of anything funny here*) Shechter

*Please feel free to send your own contributions, comments, questions...


January 20th, 2004
2:42 am

Number of celebrity sightings: 3.5
Number of cheese cubes I wish to eat for the remainder of my life: 0
Ditto crackers: 0
Ditto little mini tarts filled with spinach and cheese: 0
Number of different kinds of vodka drinks consumed in the last 6 hours: 3 (with OJ, Tonic and/or Red Bull)
Number of carbohydrates in a can of Red Bull: 13,000 give or take a few

Hello hello!

First, a bit of housekeeping...

1. For answers to such questions as: What do you do at the Filmmaker's Lodge? What's it like to volunteer? What's the big deal about your stupid hot tub? Is Park City in Colorado? etc...please consult Sundance diaries 2001-2003 conveniently located at ///journal.html

2. For those of you alarmed that my parents might be reading this sometimes salacious material, rest assured that their biggest concerns have to do with my blood sugar levels. As my mother once wisely said (loosely translated from the Romanian) "You are of age and you've had all your shots."

Now for the rest of it...

WARNING: This dispatch will contain some complaining. Everyone that thinks I have no right to be unhappy in any way while hanging out at Sundance for 12 days should stop reading now. Unless you want to hear about the celebrity stuff which will be buried at the end somewhere...

OK so this festival is really way way too too crowded! I know it's opening weekend which is the busiest time of the whole festival. And I know that 40 thousand (or was it 400 thousand) tickets were sold in the first 10 seconds of online sales. And I know that this IS the place to be right here right now. But really - two hours waits to see a movie? An hour wait to get my meatless Reuben sandwich at the Morning Ray Cafe? The incredible risk to my health and safety walking down Main Street through the hordes trying to get into the Blender Magazine party?

And we're not talking long lines to see "Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story" or the lost reels of "The Magnificent Ambersons" either. No. Two hours in the freezing cold to see a documentary about illegal immigrant Mexicans and their conflicts with the residents of Farmingville, Long Island (of course the film "Farmingville" was fantastic, but really). And another two hours to see a documentary on reclusive writer/outsider artist Henry Darger by Oscar winner Jessica (my dress cost more than my movie) Yu. "In the Realm of the Unreal," which is a masterpiece, but again, really. Two hours in the cold for that?

Other than complaining and freezing my feet (OK so cowboy boots are not the best thing to wear here, but they look so cute with skirts) I've been working hard, talking up my films to various distributors, and taking long wine-soaked sessions in our hot tub with friends, old and new. A couple of nights ago, I spent almost two hours sitting in the tub in what the Goddess gave me discussing presidential politics, Islamic law, why Jews make good Buddhists and the difference between Shiraz and Beaujolais Nouveau (answer: after two bottles, no one cares). Ahhh...warm bubbly water, red wine, a sky full of stars I never see in Brooklyn...OK I'm feeling better now.

So - the 3.5 celebrities. My highlight was escorting my new boyfriend Mark Ruffalo into the panel he was on at my venue. Dreamy. Dreamy. Dreamy. Did I mention how dreamy he is? And you gals who have seen "In the Cut" know what I'm talking about. Say it with me: "Dreamy"

The other major celeb sighting was Courtney Cox at her film "November." Loved the film and her performance was good too. Mixed audience reaction to the film overall, but it's my favorite narrative so far. The budget was a tiny $300K and despite being shot on MiniDV, it looked great. There was a rumor the entire cast of Friends would be in the audience (there had been an Aniston sighting earlier) but we didn't notice anyone besides David Arquette, all cleaned up and spiffy in a suit and tie. My gal Courtney was hilarious in the Q&A, for example:

Audience member: So Courtney, what made you take this film project?
CC: I did for the money.
[Laughter in audience]
CC: No, really. I got the whole $300,000. Everyone else worked for free.

The .5 of a celebrity I saw was someone everyone was referring to as "Ned" from "General Hospital." Anyone excited about this? I had no clue who he was, but some woman I was talking to almost fainted from joy. The last time I watched GH, Robert Scorpio was looking for the Treasure of Malkuth and no one had heard of the actress who played his girlfriend, Demi someone.

I've just returned from the Blender Magazine party, which I only got into because my manager gave me her All Access pass because I have been working so darn hard. It was pretty cool because the headline band was composed of people from Alice in Chains, Filtre and other bands I've never heard of but everyone else went crazy over. This so-called All Access pass got me into the so-called VIP bar area, but I was blocked from entering the so-called VIP band-watching area - because I didn't have the required red wristband. So what part of "All Access" do you think the bouncers don't understand? Whatever. Utah.

OK it's incredibly late and my shift starts at 9:15 tomorrow so I will sign off. Thank you to SD from New York for his sign-off suggestions (some of which are veiled in an obscurity I can't even decipher) which I will reproduce below...

Much love,
Therese "Mean Joe" Shechter
Therese "The Asparagus" Shechter
Therese "Red pants" Shechter
Therese "Flava Flav" Shechter
Therese "AllIgotfromSundancewasthislousyKenColeJacket" Shechter
Therese "100% pure adrenaline" Shechter


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