Festival Director James McNally is attending this year’s Sundance Film Festival from January 21st to February 2nd.
Festival Day 4
We spent quite a lot of today at the Temple Theatre, a really lovely space that is an actual Jewish temple for most of the year. It feels a bit remote, but it’s surrounded by land so it’s calming, rather than being in a big mall like the Redstone Cinemas. I always like working at the Temple, and the venue teams are always welcoming and friendly, too.
We started the day at HQ and then got a ride over to Temple for 10:45am with our Artist Relations driver Paul, who’s been taking great care of us. Documentary Shorts 2 had just two longer shorts, and ours was The Church and the 4th Estate, about a sexual abuse scandal within the Boy Scouts that also implicates the Mormon Church. Director Brian Knappenberger made a feature documentary a few years ago about Aaron Swartz, an Internet activist who tragically took his own life after being hounded by law enforcement. I actually met Aaron and have some poignant memories of his intelligence, so I chatted with Brian a bit about that.
We returned to HQ for a few hours and I found lunch at an amazing place. Anaya’s Market is a Mexican grocery store that looks like it’s housed in a shipping container. It also contains a rather excellent taqueria, and I enjoyed two tacos al pastor and a drink for about $6. The Sundance crowds haven’t discovered it because you have to enter the supermarket and go all the way to one end of the store, so it’s kind of a hidden treasure.
Back to the Temple by 4:45pm for Shorts Program 4 which started at 6pm, followed by Shorts Program 5 at 9pm. These were more complicated because there were 7 film teams in each program, and some had quite a few people wanting to access the theatre lounge (“green room”), and we also had a few issues with trying to get last minute tickets for some of the filmmakers. We even had an unauthorized “crasher” who was filming everyone on his phone. That was annoying more than anything and we were able to track him down later and hopefully he’ll have his credential revoked.
Everyone was quite tired by 9pm but Terry, my liaison, was asked to cover a Q&A out at Redstone at 11pm. I felt bad not going with her but she was excited because it was going to be for a film with St. Vincent and Carrie Brownstein, and she is a fan. I hope it went alright. She was able to drive her own car out there so at least she could get home quickly afterward.
I was going to go home but the International Shorts volunteer Bryan convinced me to come to the Ray to try to get into Blast Beat, a film in the US Dramatic competition. Amazingly, we got in even though we arrived 15 minutes before the 9:30pm start. We also saw other volunteers Marci and Darline (not in Artist Relations this year) but couldn’t sit with them. In fact, even Bryan and I sat in different rows. I almost fell asleep a few times but managed to stay awake, even though I found the film just okay. I didn’t stay for the Q&A because I really wanted to get home to my bed, but as I came out of the cinema, it was snowing in big heavy flakes. Luckily I found a shuttle pretty quickly and ended up speaking with a filmmaker from Arkansas named David who had also seen the film. He was trying to get to the Egyptian for an 11:45pm film, and I think he just made it. I still had to wait a few minutes at the transit hub for a bus to Deer Valley, and the one I finally got on had put on its “Not in Service” sign but luckily the driver agreed to take us all home. Deer Valley is proving to be a tough place to get home to.