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Sundance Journal 2007

Jan. 21, 2007

I'm here at Sundance for my 6th fun-filled year as a volunteer and this is the first (and at this lazy rate, possibly my last) installment of what the kids are calling my 'blog.'

I have to admit that I'm less than inspired by the goings-on here and that will surely make for a very boring blog. To quote Elvis: 'I used to be disgusted, now I'm just amused.' So stop reading here if you have something more interesting to do. You've been warned.

Not that much has changed from my last time here in 2005 except that I don't have a wrist-to-shoulder cast on my arm and the t-fracture in my elbow has healed. Thanks for the inquiries, by the way, about the current state of my bones - no I haven't fallen on the ice (yet) and yes all my joints are still intact (so far).

I wish I could say the same for my brain - post-traumatic stress syndrome doesn't begin to cover how I feel. I expect to slip and fall at any second, despite the fact that the ground is bone dry on the streets and sidewalks. Our house is at the very top of a giant hill - it's a 15-minute walk down a mountain to the nearest transportation. I am wearing my one pair of boots - my sensible Timberlands - but still every step I take sends tremors up my legs.

The condo itself is very nice - four levels with a hot tub at the top (which I haven't even set a toe in yet.) I have finally reached the private-room seniority level and I can't tell you how different the Sundance experience is with a queen size bed, no snoring roommate and a door that locks. It's a co-ed house so three of us gals have private rooms and two seniority-deficient guys share a room on the main floor. No shenanigans or tomfoolery in this house, just lots of stereotypes in action: tons of beer in the fridge, pistachio shells on the floor and football talk surrounding me as I write this (Go Bears!)

There seems to be an abundance of free food this year. Our sponsors have food for us at every venue: Larabars, Pepsi drink products, Krups coffee, Stella Artois beer, Turning Leaf wine and water of a brand I can't quite recall (so much for that sponsor.) I heard a rumor that Stella, being Belgian, was offering frites at their tent, so I ran down the hill as fast as I could (post-traumatic stress be damned!) but to no avail. The tent was closed until that evening.

What about those jackets, you ask? Sundance jackets are like bridesmaids dresses - you grudgingly wear them because you have to look like everyone else, but alway ask yourself: 'Will I ever wear this again?' This year, our personal tailor Kenneth Cole, has outfitted us in a rather chic dark gray ski jacket with a burgundy-ish lining. The jacket is short, stopping right at the hips, with the customary too-long sleeves for us gals since it's ALWAYS the men's jacket for all. I'd love for one year to have everyone wear a ladies jacket and see how the guys like wearing something never intended to be worn on their bodies. Anyway, we also got gray fleece vests that the volunteer staff delusionally expect me to wear every day, as well as a rather ugly computer bag with a honking big AOL logo, a thermal mug, a baseball cap and a fleece scarf. Look for most of these things as prizes at my next Oscar party.

Park City is allegedly crawling with stars, none of which I have witnessed with my own eyes, because as you all know I have celebrity-blindness. Oh wait, I did see Brenda Blethyn who was very cool. And Buzz Aldrin and Dave Scot - real live astronauts!!!! at Q&A for 'In the Shadow of the Moon,' a brilliant doc about the Apollo missions with interviews with all the surviving astronauts intercut with mind-blowing NASA footage. Very moving stuff because I remember all of this from when I was very very very young. These were pre-VCR days and I remember my father setting his camera up in front of the TV to take pictures of the moon landing.

My friends however have seen all sorts of famous people (if Wynona Ryder & a lesser Baldwin count in this category), mostly outside the Premiere Magazine lounge, a little Main Street store front where the stars are limo-ed in for a photo op and then whisked away as quickly as possible. Adam Brody (don't swoon MB) was spotted in a lounge somewhere standing around looking lost and once saying f**k. Wild and crazy stuff, I know. Still on the lookout for perennial Sundance favorite Jake Gyllenhaal (did you know people who google his name end up on my Sundance journal pages???)

Other film highlights:
"The Future is Unwritten," a documentary about The Clash's Joe Strummer that literally - yes literally - took my breath away with is awesomeness. The stupendous sound system belting out the tunes didn't hurt.
"Everything's Cool" a doc about environmentalists, which is the latest film by my hero Judith Helfand, who has yet to take out that restraining order on me.
Two dramatic entries with exceptional performances by young girls
- "Grace is Gone" starring (KF's husband) John Cusack trying to tell his kids their mom was killed in Iraq (weep weep weep);
and "Blame It on Fidel" a tres charmant and profound French film about a young bourgeois Parisian girl who is pissed off because her parents have become radicals.
More info by clicking here!

OK that's way more than enough for you all. Write me with questions and I'll do my best to answer them amusingly.

Jan. 24, 2007

Some questions from the mail bag:

You saw Buzz Aldrin????? Can I touch you? KG
YES and I saw him AGAIN having breakfast next to me and Lisa (producer/partner-in-crime) yesterday morning. We chatted (gushed) like a couple of space groupies with him and the director of the film "In the Shadow of the Moon.' But I think I kinda chilled the air when I asked him why it was called the Apollo mission and not the Artemis mission (she being goddess of the moon and all). Buzz just stared at me for a while, seemingly confused/annoyed by the question.
His polite answer: "It was such a big project, Apollo seemed the right name." As Lisa whispered 'You just can't help yourself, can you?,' I decided there was really no good reason to raise the consciousness of the second man on the moon.So I regrouped, shook his hand and I told him what an honor it was to meet him AND called him 'sir,' but I think he's still filing the restraining order as we speak.

Darling, you are the inspiration, the call of the wild, throw caution to the wind, and get in that hot tub! SH
I finally did last night! And this is really the sad but true quintessential Sundance experience: Warm water bubbling all around, chilled bubbly swigged straight from the bottle, huge starry Utah sky...and a long debate about whether poetry is a viable narrative form for a film, as opposed to the more common prose form. Yep. Had to be there.

How about adding some gay content for those of us on the visiting team? You've been there for days, haven't you connected with the gay scene yet? JW
OK - Sundance IS the gay scene. Gayer than Elton John's fanny pack, as they say. Even the straight guys act gay here (make of that what you will). But interestingly enough, there's no strong gay trend in the films like there has been in every year past. They don' even have their official 'Gay' venue any more. But I'll do my best to track it down - if I stumble into a fully-outfitted den of Sodomy, I'll take notes and as many cellphone photos as I can.

What about the Uggs? Are they gone with the buffalo? What are the Starlets wearing? SH
It's a bland year for Sundance style. Not so much to report, partly because it's insanely freezing here and everyone is bundled up in layers of fleece (a material that physicists have found to create a style vacuum.) The ladies ARE wearing Ugg-like boots with very narrow pants tucked in. But the guys' style is so unremarkable, it almost makes me miss the bushy-bearded Unabomber look from two years ago! Actually, the most prevalent guy-style is that they're all sounding and acting REALLY GAY! What's up with that??

When are you going to Sundance with a film? PH
I have a couple of films here at Sundance with me. But through some sort of horrible clerical error, neither were scheduled for screenings! But seriously folks, our next attempt will hopefully be for Sundance '08 with a new doc I'm working on called The American Virgin. (I love doing films about words heavy with cultural baggage.) In the last couple of days, my producer Lisa and I have pitched the film to HBO, Showtime, Discovery, Sundance and PBS among others and people seem enthusiastic, so keep your fingers crossed. I have pitch fatigue, so I can't bear to write another word about it, but the postcards are really cool and have a virginity quiz on the back. Did I mention that Artemis was a virgin?

What is your favorite Festival swag thusfar? MM
Ummm....the free water? Although Adobe has been giving out some very cute fleece-lined wooly hats.

I heard all the good films this year are heavy in sexual content. Seen any sex scenes yet? If so, were they in the hot tub or on screen? HT

Do you think maybe your elbow now has special abilities? Like a water dowsing stick? HT
I'm hoping it starts doing a better job as a free booze dowsing stick. I refuse to pay for any more microscopic Utah-sized shots of vodka!! It's impossible to get drunk in this town if you're buying at a bar.

Do you think one can live off sponsored foods without being constipated?
No. And in a related side note, I seem to be losing weight. Is it the diet of Larabars and water? Or the 15-min. uphill hike to get home at night?

What's with the Dustin "Screech" Diamond vs Gary Coleman controversy? SH
This is a job for Access Hollywood. Every time I hear about this, my eyes glaze over and then roll back into my head.

There is an added spice of maturity, no more wide-eyed wonder for all that Sundance has to offer, more jaded, more looking at it from a distance. Subtle but fascinating change. What does it mean? MS
Hmmmm....let's see. The week is young? I haven't had enough free liquor? Have no fear. There's still plenty of time for my innate immaturity to surface.

So with a special warm thought for the late Raccoon, I bid you farewell until next time...

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