Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Sundance Film Festival from January 19th to 31st.
Festival Day 1
Today was supposed to be our big film team check-in day. We threw the doors of the Film Office open at 8am and waited. And waited. And waited. Kevin and I have the largest number of film teams (an unbelievable 39!), and we were hoping that we’d have most of them checked in by the end of today. But I don’t think we even crossed the halfway point. Inevitably, it would be very quiet for a while, and then two or three teams would come in at the same time. Tomorrow is bound to be busier, but it also has more screenings we need to attend.
Although the Film Office was open until 9pm tonight, we had to leave just after 5pm to attend a reception for shorts filmmakers hosted by YouTube. I spent some time talking to Sol Friedman and his wife, who are here showing Bacon and God’s Wrath. And I met a pair of friendly Irish filmmakers, Damian and Keith, here with animated short A Coat Made Dark.
We had to get over to the historic Egyptian Theatre on Main Street by around 7pm to be ready to welcome our Shorts Program 1 filmmakers for their press line. The lineup featured two Canadian films (Mobilize and Don McKellar’s It’s Not You) and one that might be called half-Canadian: Killer director Matt Kazman is from Toronto though he lives in New York now. His parents and sister were attending and were excited to find out we are showing the film as part of our April Lineup. They’ve promised to bring all of Matt’s family and friends along to the screening.
I’d been looking forward to meeting Don McKellar but he arrived at the very last minute and barely had time to sit in his seat before the film got underway. Hopefully he sticks around and attends some of the events; it would be great to say hello and thank him for all his work.
After we had helped the film teams manage the press line and find their seats, we were free to go, but I ended up watching the entire program standing at the back of the cinema. A couple of highlights: AJ Schnack’s Difficult to Speak was a quietly devastating indictment of America’s gun problem, while Mickey Duzyj’s charming The Shining Star of Losers Everywhere was a more whimsical look at a legendary Japanese racehorse.
After a 14 hour workday, though, I’m ready for bed. Hopefully I can get a good night’s rest so I’m ready to check in the remaining 20+ teams tomorrow as well as accompany filmmakers to three screenings.
P.S. Random run-ins with people I’ve worked with and for: Alan Black (Hot Docs), Charlotte Cook (ex-Hot Docs), Anita Cotic (TIFF), Thom Powers (TIFF). Additional celebrity sighting: Elijah Wood (walked right into the Film Office).