Sundance 2018: Day 1

Sundance Film Festival 2018

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

T-2 days until festival begins

On the flight down on Monday, I caught up with two Sundance 2017 titles, which seemed like a fitting way to prepare for the festival. Patti Cake$ is a fairly conventional story of a struggling rapper from New Jersey, though the music was great, there were some interesting magic realist touches, and the performances were strong. The predictable climax still had my heart swelling and my eyes leaking. Ingrid Goes West is a dark comedy about social media obsession and stalking the people we think are happier and more successful than we are. It’s not as clever as it thinks it is, but Aubrey Plaza is simply fantastic in it.

The day began with a shuttle ride, provided by the rock star Susan Roberts Sisson, another Sundance volunteer who runs her own private shuttle before and after the festival. She started a few years ago to get to know other volunteers, and it’s now grown to a mind-bogglingly complicated operation. It’s great that she provides a necessary service at a reasonable cost, and we all get to meet new people while we’re at it. I got into Park City by mid-day, after meeting a whole crew of volunteers on the ride. Melissa Houghton, from Toronto, is someone I’ve worked with before in the Artist Relations Office, and it was nice to see a familiar face. I also met Darline, from Tallahassee, who is working in Artist Relations, too. It’s her first Sundance and it was nice to feel like I had some useful information to impart.

After we checked in, we had a few hours until we could get into our assigned lodgings, so six of us decided to take a walk to Main Street. Another first-time volunteer, Ben, had been told that the Wasatch Brewpub was a good spot, so we spent about half an hour walking there, but it was such a beautiful sunny day that it was a pleasure, even with the altitude and the uphill on Main.

I checked into my lodging around 5. I’m at the Snowflower condo, which is fairly close to where I was last time, except that it’s about a 6-7 minute walk away from Park Avenue. In fact, the complex has four buildings and I’m in the fourth, the furthest from the street (but closest to the ski slopes!). I’m sharing a room with a guy named Jake, from Chicago. He’s running merchandise between the Festival Stores. In the bigger room is Justus, who is on the Works crew with my roommates from last time. They fill the propane tanks for the heaters at all the shuttle stops. He’s a vegetarian, and Jake’s a vegan, so my grocery shopping was a little bit tentative. I went out to pick up some stuff, and ended up with soup, bagels, pasta, pasta sauce, peanut butter, cream cheese, bananas, and some bread.

I went out later to catch the later of the volunteer screenings at the Library Theatre. It was RBG, a documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She’s 84 and a badass. Her work on women’s rights in the 70s and beyond is historically essential and she’s still a strong progressive voice today. The film also did a great job of honouring her late husband, a gifted lawyer in his own right who always put his wife’s career first.

The film got out near midnight and I was exhausted. The walk home from the theatre was only about 15 minutes, but I felt like I’d had a lot of exercise today and was happy to see my bed.

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