Sundance 2016: Day 13

Sundance Film Festival 2016

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Sundance Film Festival from January 19th to 31st.

Festival Day 11

I’d been starting to feel reasonably human last night and that was fortunate since we were being tossed out of our lodgings at 10:00am this morning. Joel and Eric and I crammed our stuff into an Uber and rode back to HQ, where I stored my bag for the day. Lots of screenings of award-winners today and I wasn’t sure how busy things would be. I had a ride arranged to Salt Lake City for 8:00pm so I really had nothing else to do but see films today, and luckily I was feeling well enough to tackle it. I’m glad.

I began my day at the Yarrow Theatre, with an 11:00am screening of The Lure. This Polish musical featured two mermaid sisters who join a very odd cabaret show, with tragic results. Bags of style and the music was great. It may be the most visually gorgeous film I saw this year, too. I hope this one gets some sort of release in North America.

It was easy to just stay at the Yarrow, and I was happy that the 2:00pm screening was of Penny Lane’s animated documentary Nuts!. I’d met Penny back in 2014 at Hot Docs when she brought her last film Our Nixon and so I knew she’d approach her story creatively. And what a story! Dr. J.R. Brinkley was a pioneer of alternative medicine and of radio, and one of the savviest marketers in history. He made his name with an impotence cure that involved transplanting goat testicles into men, with seemingly remarkable results. It’s an amazing, funny, and ultimately very American story. Highly recommended!

After my lost day yesterday, I thought I’d missed my chance to see the Daniels’ Swiss Army Man but luckily their win for Best Direction in the US Dramatic category meant they’d get another screening, and that made me very happy. I ended my Sundance with the farting corpse of Daniel Radcliffe, and I laughed and cried in equal measure. If you can get past the rather crude setup, this first feature from the visually inventive team of Daniel Kwon and Daniel Scheinert is a plea for us to examine the things that separate us from each other. Paul Dano’s depressed character needs to form a relationship with a dead guy (Radcliffe) to see what it means to be human, and alive. Audacious and wears its heart (and its fart) on its sleeve. Sure, this isn’t for everyone (what film is?), but if you’ve seen their previous work (and especially Interesting Ball, which we showed you in 2015), you’ll get this, and hopefully love it as much as I did.

This 6:00pm screening at the Library got out just after 7:35pm, and although Daniel Kwon was there to do a Q&A (bless him, on the last day of a very long festival), I had to hurry back to HQ so as not to miss my ride. I never got to meet him, though I did briefly chat with his fiancée Kirsten Lepore, whose incredible stop-motion film Bottle we just showed a few weeks back. Maybe I’ll be brave and try to get in touch with them when I’m in LA.

Being out all day meant that I didn’t get a chance to dose up on Theraflu again and so the ride back to Salt Lake City found me sounding worse and worse and starting to feel feverish again. Susan, a local from SLC and first-time volunteer, had driven fellow volunteers from the airport at the beginning of the festival and made the same offer now to drive people back. She was nice enough to drop me at my AirBnB. I have two more nights in SLC before flying out to LA on Tuesday.

I felt like a horror film character as I met my hosts, who quickly boiled me up some water for my Theraflu. So my Sundance concluded with a bang (great films today) AND a whimper (still sick).

Sundance 2016: Day 12

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Sundance Film Festival from January 19th to 31st.

Festival Day 10

This will be a weird entry. I tossed and turned all night, feeling ever sicker. I had the scariest fever dreams, and when I “woke” at 10:30am, I realized I’d be too sick to work the Awards Ceremony and Party later in the day. I tried to compose an email to Kevin, Courtney (Assistant Manager of the Film Office) and Kir (Manager of the Film Office) but I must have dozed off while writing it. I next woke at 3:00pm and texted Kevin that I was really sick and to check his email. He texted back that he hadn’t received anything. Very surreal. But I was disappointed that I couldn’t be at the final party, both because I felt like I was letting the team down and because I was going to miss the last chance to party and say goodbye to my colleagues.

I spent the entire day in bed. Luckily I’d bought some Theraflu the night before and took some of that along with ibuprofen when I was lucid enough to get out of bed. There were some hours where I was in a weird sleep-waking state where I was terrified I might die, alone and forgotten in my little twin bed in some basement in Park City.

I was awake enough in the evening to try to watch the Awards Ceremony live stream, but technical problems quickly killed that plan, and so I was reduced to following along on Twitter.

A truly miserable day.

Sundance 2016: Day 11

Freedy Johnston - Sundance Film Festival 2016

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Sundance Film Festival from January 19th to 31st.

Festival Day 9

We’re in the home stretch now. My last early shift at the Film Office ran from 8:00am until noon. I met Jackie (whom I feel I haven’t seen in a couple of days) for lunch just after 1:00pm at Red Banjo on Main Street. I had ravioli and garlic bread, which was a (very) small change from all the pizza I’ve been eating. Then we wandered down to the bottom of Main to the ASCAP Music Cafe, where we saw three sets: Genevieve (sort of twee hippie folk), Freedy Johnston (a semi-legendary “songwriter’s songwriter”) whom I wanted to see, and Sibling, a fairly new indie pop band whom Jackie knew about and loved. We left just before 4:00pm and headed to our separate lodgings. She leaves tomorrow, while I’m here in Park City until Sunday.

I had been starting to feel sickly as early as last night, but the aches and pains and coughing and general lousiness caught up to me today, so I slept for two hours and skipped a film I had a ticket for (The Fundamentals of Caring with Paul Rudd). I hadn’t even really wanted to see it, but director Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed, Jurassic World) turned it in at the Film Office for whomever could use it. It’s not even his film, but I expect because of the cast it will come out theatrically at some point, so I’m not worried about missing the screening.

I did head out to Redstone pretty early, though, to get a volunteer ticket for my friend Robert Greene’s new film Kate Plays Christine. Before the film, I used my last “grub stub” at Red Rock Brewery to enjoy a hearty burger and mashed potatoes. Even as I felt myself getting sicker, I knew I should have a good meal.

Kate Plays Christine is another examination of performance a bit similar to his previous film Actress, and features Kate Lyn Sheil preparing to play Christine Chubbock, a television journalist in 1970s Sarasota who became the first person to commit suicide live on air. It’s an intense film at times, as it examines our morbid need to see horrors like this at the expense of valuing ordinary life.

Despite feeling ever-lousier, I gave Robert a quick hug after the screening. Hopefully I haven’t passed along this sickness! Redstone is far and isolated at the best of times, and coming out of the cinema after midnight was a bit scary, but I did somehow find my way onto the right shuttle. I got to bed sometime after 1:00am, after drinking a mug of Theraflu.