Tag Archives: Sundance 2018

Sundance 2018: Day 13

Sundance 2018 Official Selection Laurels

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

Festival Day 11

Despite the late night (morning?), I had to be up at 8:00am in order to pack and vacate our condo by 10:00am. Three hours sleep definitely wasn’t enough, but I got out in time, leaving my luggage at the reception desk of the Snowflower Condominiums. I grabbed my usual morning coffee and walked to the Holiday Village Cinemas. These are normally the venue for all the press and industry screenings, and they just opened up to the public yesterday. It was a day of screenings of all the award-winning films, so the schedule wasn’t really known until this morning. I ended up staying to watch two films back to back.

Shirkers was a knockout. A personal documentary about a feature film made my the filmmaker as a teenager that was essentially lost for 25 years when her mentor disappeared with all the materials back in 1992. It was one of the first independent films made in Singapore, and watching pieces of it now is fascinating. For the director Sandi Tan it’s like a time capsule of her teenage years but also a painful reminder of an experience that nearly destroyed her creative ambitions. It’s a unique document that is visually striking and emotionally moving.

Time Share was a bonkers dark comedy from Mexico, in which two families are mistakenly booked into the same room at a time share resort. One of the men gradually becomes unhinged as the tone goes from slapstick to darker psychological territory. I found it uneven but still watchable, with some excellent cinematography and art direction. Not as subtle or deep as, say, a Yorgos Lanthimos film, but in the same ballpark.

At the screening, I met Adam and James, two of the volunteers I’d been hanging out with over the past few days and nights, and after the film we walked over to Este Pizza for a late lunch. We were all sharing a shuttle to Salt Lake City at 5:00pm, so it was nice to spend a bit more time with them. On the shuttle ride, I met Slava, a young woman living in Brooklyn who had just volunteered for her first festival. Everyone is so friendly and curious at Sundance, and I have made a whole lot of new Facebook friends. I hope I’ll see everyone again next year!

Sundance 2018: Day 12

Awards Night at Sundance 2018

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

Festival Day 10

The last day of work for me, though technically not the last day of the festival. I was at HQ for 11:00am to pick up my credential to work the Awards Ceremony tonight, and I found out I was picked to be a stand-in at the rehearsal, which meant I was out at the Basin Fieldhouse from noon onwards. It was pretty fun, though. Along with my friend Celine and another volunteer Hayley, I got to play a filmmaker accepting an award. I moved seats and did different speeches every time, and also took different routes up to the stage in order to prepare the tech crew, including the camera teams, for any eventuality. One time I sprinted up to the stage, for instance. It was kind of funny trying to come up with a new speech each time, too.

Then we had a two hour break so I went to the Red Rock Brewery to use up my last Grub Stub. Two years ago, the “burger and fries” were quite fancy, but this time, they’d replaced it with a generic crappy burger. To make things worse, the service was the worst I’ve had in a long time. I ordered a beer in order to pad the bill, but their draft lines were in such bad shape that they poured out more foam than I’d ever seen before. A thoroughly unpleasant experience.

My responsibilities for the actual ceremony were few. I helped Priya look for any of our film teams arriving, but there was really nothing to do because so few of our teams were still around. And those that did come to the ceremony weren’t up for any awards, so it was low-key. I did get to see Ethan Hawke and Chloe Grace Moretz up close, and I loved that Ethan Hawke just lined up with his drink ticket just like everyone else. Sundance has that kind of informality. Jason Mantzoukas was the MC and a highlight was Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons (along with composer Keegan Dewitt) playing the theme song from Hearts Beat Loud. It’s a great song and quite the earworm.

When the awards ceremony ended, all the Artist Relations team sprung into action removing chairs in order to turn the seated section into the dance floor. It was pretty great getting to see and hear RuPaul playing DJ for the evening. I mostly hung out with some of the volunteers I met on my shuttle once the party started, having spent the earlier part of the evening with my Artist Relations colleagues.

The party officially wrapped at 12:30pm but hours earlier my housemates and I were working on an afterparty plan. Jake had scored eight cases of free beer from Slamdance (from their beer sponsor Red Rock Brewing) and one of the women we met last night, Lark, invited us to her place in Deer Valley. A young guy named Ben who hadn’t been drinking volunteered to shuttle us out there, stopping at our place to pick up the beer first.

And that’s how I ended up staying out until 4:30am. Lark’s condo had four floors, a sauna and a pool table, and there were only three of them sharing it. Maybe 15-20 people turned up, and it was a nice time, although we barely made a dent in all the extra beer. A very nice end to a long but fulfilling day.

Sundance 2018: Day 11

Nick Offerman at Sundance 2018

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

Festival Day 9

On the penultimate day of the festival, I slept in until 9:00am, which felt like a luxury. My roommate Jake and I stayed up until 1:00am last night talking about the festival and filmmaking, which was nice since I hadn’t really seen him in a couple of days.

My office shift was uneventful, and I was able to leave at 5pm in order to get into the volunteer tickets line at the Eccles for Hearts Beat Loud. Luckily, I got a ticket and enjoyed the film a lot. It features Nick Offerman (pictured above) and Kiersey Clemons as father and daughter who form a band. It wasn’t particularly deep or innovative, but the story was sweet, the chemistry between the actors was great, and the music was just fantastic. Earlier, I’d invited people to our condo for a little get-together, and by the time I stopped at the liquor store and then took a Lyft home, there was already someone waiting for me.

From 9:00pm until around 2:30am, we hosted about 10 people at our place, and it turned out to be one of my favourite experiences of the festival. Some of the volunteers I met on my initial shuttle ride into Park City came, and invited a few others, so it was a perfect way to get to know some new people. We played some silly card games and even “Never Have I Ever” which was really funny.

Best of all, I avoided getting sick and so could look forward to the Awards ceremony again.

Sundance 2018: Day 10

Snowfall at the MARC Theatre at Sundance 2018

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

Festival Day 8

With all our premieres done, all I had to do today was put in a shift at HQ from 8:00am-1:00pm and then I’d be free to see films. It was nice to catch up with everyone back in the office for a while, but I was ready to start catching some movies. First I headed to the MARC where I met up with several of our group of volunteers from our shuttle ride. We’ve been keeping up with each other on Facebook messenger and so it was nice to see a film with some friends. It was The Miseducation of Cameron Post with Chloe Grace Moretz and it was the best thing I’ve seen so far. A very understated film about a young woman sent to a “gay conversion therapy” camp in the 1990s. I liked how there weren’t any caricatured villains. The evangelicals who run the camp are misguided but they don’t come across as completely unrelatable, either. I hope this gets a wide release.

Afterwards, we came out to another heavy snowfall. It took about twenty minutes for enough shuttles to arrive to take everyone who’d come out of the film, but I had enough time to use the third of my four “grub stubs” to get a meal at Burger King before heading to the Park Avenue Theatre for Shorts Program 2 at 6:00pm. I found it weaker than Shorts Program 1 overall, but enjoyed The Climb very much, a clever one-shot comedy about two cyclists riding up a steep hill and having an awkward conversation.

I was fading fast, but managed to convince myself to stay at the Park Avenue to see Documentary Shorts Program 1 at 9:00pm. The highlights of a very strong lineup included Symphony of a Sad Sea, a beautifully-shot story about a young Mexican man exiled from his hometown, Volte, about a young Polish acrobat whose adolescent growth spurt threatens her position within the troupe, and Baby Brother, a loving portrait of the director’s younger brother who has moved back in with their parents. I’m glad I stayed out.

I don’t have to be in the office until 1:00pm tomorrow but I’m not sure how early I want to get up to see films. If I see one before work and one afterwards, I think I’ll be happy.

Sundance 2018: Day 9

Posters on Main Street at Sundance 2018

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

Festival Day 7

Up at 6:00am this morning to cover our last premiere, for Wild Wild Country at the Egyptian Theatre on Main Street. It’s a six-part documentary series that runs nearly 7 hours, so I wonder what the turnout will be early in the morning. It looks fascinating, though, so I’m glad to hear that it will be showing in March on Netflix.

Then I split my time between The Ray and the Park Avenue for the second screenings of three of our Indie Episodic programmes. I was able to sit through Indie Episodic Program 2 (This Close and The Mortified Guide) and Indie Episodic Program 3 (Mr. Inbetween and High and Mighty) and they were all knockouts. Some really good stuff being made in this format, and can’t wait to see more, if possible. Living in Canada makes all non-theatrical stuff a bit uncertain, but hoping I’ll be able to see all of these great projects soon.

Today was Volunteer Appreciation Day and tonight there was a party at the ASCAP Music Cafe venue on Main Street. It was nice to reunite with friends from our initial shuttle ride to Park City, and to eat some mac ‘n cheese and risotto as well as to imbibe some free beers. Five beers in two hours, though, and I was ready for bed. The rest of the gang were going on to see a midnight film at the Egyptian, but I came home since I have another 6:00am wake up call tomorrow. I’ll be at HQ from 8:00am until 1:00pm and will finally be able to make some plans to see more films tomorrow.

Things are winding down and that’s a bit sad, but now I really want to focus on seeing films and hanging out with some of the people I’ve met here. Hopefully I can do both!