Sundance 2018: Day 5

Winter Wonderland at Sundance 2018

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Sundance Film Festival from January 16th to 28th.

Festival Day 3

A very quiet start to the day in the Artist Relations Office. I was hoping more of our filmmakers might check in today but nobody stopped by. Lots of snow overnight made this morning’s walk to work beautiful, but also a bit treacherous. Just after I took the nice picture above, I went sprawling on some snow-covered ice. Luckily nobody saw me.

Later in the afternoon, we had our second premiere. This time it was for The Death of Stalin, a very funny film I saw back in September at TIFF. We were hosting the director, Armando Iannucci, along with stars Andrea Riseborough and Jason Isaacs. There was also a BBC crew shooting a documentary segment on Iannucci, so it was a little bit chaotic, but the venue team at the MARC Theatre helped us keep things together.

I was off at 6:30pm and went straight to the Prospector Square Theatre to get in line for a volunteer ticket for Robert Greene’s Bisbee ’17. I’ve known Robert for many years now, having written about one of his earlier films (Kati with an I) and I consider him a friend, albeit one I don’t see often. In fact, it was two years ago at Sundance when I last saw him, at a screening of his previous film Kate Plays Christine. But he immediately recognized me, gave me a big hug, and asked about my health. Robert knows millions of people and seems to remember and care about all of them, a character trait that made his latest film even more powerful. Bisbee ’17 captures the inhabitants of Bisbee, Arizona grappling with a dark incident from their history. They reenact the forced evacuation of copper miners who were striking for better conditions in 1917. It’s beautifully captured and there are some lovely epiphanies for many of the town’s citizens.

Before the film, I had a long chat with Harvey Lalonde, a legendary Toronto festival volunteer who also volunteers here at Sundance. This year, lost identification and a last-minute passport replacement nearly led to a cancelled trip, but luckily he made it with just hours to spare.

Robert Greene at Sundance 2018

By the time the film was over, I only had time to catch the shuttle home, make some soup and write this post. I have to be up at 6:00am again tomorrow for another early shift in the office.

Sundance 2018: Day 4

My Walk to Work (Sundance 2018)

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Sundance Film Festival from January 16th to 28th.

Festival Day 2

I pulled an early shift in the office this morning, rising at 6:00am to get in before 8:00am. It was a dark walk (see photo above) to get my coffee at Starbucks and then to catch the shuttle, but I saw my colleagues Celine, Megan, and Fabiola at the stop, so at least there was some conversation. We’d hoped that most of the rest of our film teams would check in (we had about 12 of 26 outstanding) but only a few came in. We also had our first premiere screening, in the Spotlight programme. It was at the Egyptian Theatre, right on Main Street, and was for Warwick Thornton’s Sweet Country, which played at TIFF back in September. The director and two producers were very laid back and it was a nice easy introduction to the venue part of my job.

After that it was back to HQ for about another half hour before Priya let me leave, at about 4:30pm. I stopped at Rite-Aid on the way home and bought a new hairdryer (the one I brought kind of died), some beers (Dead Horse Amber from Moab Brewery), and a couple of cans of Red Bull.

True to past experience, I never really start thinking about plans until I’m out of the office, and tonight could have gone several ways. I don’t have to be in the office until 10:00am tomorrow but I didn’t end up seeing a movie tonight. After a few days of warm temperatures and sunny skies, we got snow tonight, and I just got too comfortable recharging my batteries (literally and figuratively) in the condo.

Sundance 2018: Day 3

Sundance Artist Relations Office 2018

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Sundance Film Festival from January 16th to 28th.

Festival Day 1

I got to the Artist Relations Office at 9:30am and worked pretty solidly without leaving the building until 7:00pm. It was a day of filmmaker checkins, which is always exciting as everyone arrives in Park City buzzing for the days ahead. Although I’m assigned to Indie Episodic and Spotlight, I’m often called upon to check in filmmakers from other sections when the Artist Relations Liaison and their category volunteer are both unavailable. So I ended up checking in two teams from the NEXT and Midnight sections for my friend Regina.

I also spotted a lot of familiar faces, including short filmmaker Don Hertzfeldt, with whom I briefly spoke. I also saw Kerri Craddock from TIFF, Kathleen McInnis from See-Through Films, short filmmaker Trevor Anderson, and probably a few more whose names I’m forgetting. It’s a nice gathering of kindred spirits here, and I can’t wait to see some films. Although I have to be in the office for 8am tomorrow, I’m planning to attend the first screening of Shorts Program 1 (including Don’s film World of Tomorrow Episode 2: The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts) tonight at the Prospector Square Cinema, just a few minutes walk from HQ.

I ate far too much pizza today, but did manage to start the day with cereal and orange juice, and ate a banana and some diced mangoes during the day. The biggest thing is remembering to drink a lot of water. I find the altitude and the dry air contribute to some serious chapped lips and parched throat. That’s also because filmmaker checkins involve a lot of me talking, so my voice is feeling worn out tonight.

So I did get to the shorts screening, though I was absolutely exhausted by the time it was over. World of Tomorrow‘s second episode was a solid follow-up to the award-winning first episode, but my favourite of the bunch was Men Don’t Whisper, a hysterically funny story about a gay couple hoping to assert their masculinity by trying to sleep with women. I also really liked Garfield, about the morning after a drunken hookup. Can’t wait to see more shorts!