Our Guide to New York’s Best Film Parties of 2003
by Wendy Mitchell
December is a time to reflect on what we’ve learned during the past
year, plan our goals for the next year, and… well… screw it, look back on
the booziest and best parties of 2003! Instead of our usual BUZZ column this
week, we offer indieWIRE’s highly subjective list of the best film bashes in
the Big Apple during the past year. We left out festival parties in Toronto,
Sundance, Cannes and so forth and just included the ones right here in New
York. Our judging criteria included crowd, drinks, food, music, space, and
overall vibe. Oh yes, and we had to be invited. Or at least be brave enough
Top 10 New York City indie film parties of the year
(listed in chronological order)
Even if the movie basically tanked, the party (co-sponsored with the
fun gang from Nerve) was a hit. Much like last year’s “Secretary” party
(except no Jake Gyllenhaal sightings this time), the event was dancey
(thanks to some Doobie Brothers and Wham songs) and quite mingly. A fitting
event for a film about a woman (played by Frances McDormand) who always
seems to be looking for a good time.
So Gen Art’s film festival is at least as well known for its killer
parties (filled with beautiful people, not your usual film geeks) as some of
its films. There’s always a sexual energy at Gen Art (one indieWIRE writer
reported that the fest’s unofficial mission is to “get people laid”) so
how apropos that this year’s opening night bash was held at the slick and
sleazy Times Square stripper palace Show World? One pal of ours was so taken
with the environs that she got on stage and showed off her moves… for tips,
Who would have thought a doc about a family torn about by charges of
child molestation would host a kick-ass party? In a week full of dozens of
Tribeca parties, this one stands out. Joining the festivities were Moby,
Barbara Kopple, “Friedmans” director Andrew Jarecki, and Cyndi Lauper. The
usual film crowd got drunker than usual, ordering pizza to be delivered to
the Mercer, passing out at the table, and of course trying to chat up
visiting pop star Robbie Williams.
Because a great party isn’t always about a fancy space and top-shelf
liquor, we’re including this informal gathering at the now sadly defunct
Cowboy Pictures. There were cheap snacks, plenty of beer & wine, and a
small, ever-so-friendly crowd to mingle with comfortably. A bit tipsy by the
time the film screening started, we made our way to a Hypnotic party at the
swankier Tribeca Grand later that night (fun until someone stole our
jackets, that is). Summer Fridays won’t be the same without you,
It just doesn’t get much better than Guastavino’s, the magnificent
restaurant under the Queensboro Bridge. We’d show up to just about
anything held there (except for maybe a party for a horrible Ed Burns flick
or something). Newmarket Films launched Niki Caro’s hit “Whale Rider” here
in high style, complete with a performance by the Kahurangi Maori dancers.
And who doesn’t love that adorable Keisha-Castle Hughes?
Leave it for an inventive movie to boast an inventive party. Despite
the usual red carpet action, this party was kitschier than most, paying
homage to the Cleveland that Harvey Pekar holds near and dear to his heart.
Guests feasted on such suburban treats as mac and cheese, onion rings, White
Castle burgers, chicken fingers, chili, and peanut butter and jelly
sandwiches. No wonder Pekar was sporting a little gut underneath his
fetching “American Splendor” T-shirt that night. Vintage jazz was played as
revelers gathered at suburban-inspired seating arrangements (read: ugly
couches). If Orange Crush wasn’t strong enough, there was of course an open
bar. If anyone had a sudden burst of comic book inspiration, crayons were
left on the tables.
Yes, it’s egotistical to put this one on the list, but it really was a
first-class event (and indieWIRE & Kodak can’t take all the credit, the NY
Governor’s Film office also sponsored) that was intimate enough that
you could mingle with the VIPS, not just spot them behind a velvet rope.
The whole evening felt like a real celebration of the film community here,
not just a chance to swill drinks. Plus, Peter Dinklage closed down the
party and he’s cool. Don’t even get us started on the after-after party,
at nearby Nancy Whiskey Pub.
The film is one of the more adventurous works of the year, so by the
time the flick was actually over after a late start and a series of what we
thought would be good endings, our rumps were ready to get out of those
horrible seats at MoMA Gramercy and run over to Plaid for a drink. The
scene was similar to the Palm Pictures party for “Stoked,” but with a notch
up in attendees — like a very sparkly Chloe Sevigny joined by costars Gina
Gershon and Connie Nielsen, director Olivier Assayas, and pal Natasha
The black tie gala at Tavern on the Green that opened the New York Film
Festival is too overwhelming — not to mention the fact we saw a mouse
running around the piano when the party was winding down. So instead we’re
including the closing night party for “21 Grams” — a much more intimate
affair. This gathering had lots going for it: a new venue, a late-night
vibe, plenty of great food and drinks, and huge star power (Sean Penn,
Benicio del Toro, Naomi Watts, Clea Duvall, Melissa Leo,
Caroline Rhea, Alan Cumming, Ryan Gosling, Robin Williams).
And a spy we know happened to see a smooch between Gael Garcia Bernal and
Killer Films & Content Film holiday parties (Killer offices/Flow, December)
The holiday party season tends to blur together after a while, so only
a truly memorable night really stands out. This year, that night was
December 11, when Killer Films christened its new NoHo offices (well, a new
floor anyway) with an early party, complete with cranberry cosmos, pigs in a
blanket (oh yeah!), and Christine Vachon in festive red plaid pants.
After that, most of the same revelers could be found a few hours later (and
a few more degrees of drunkenness) at Flow for the ContentFilm holiday
celebration and fete for “The Hebrew Hammer.” After a night full of solid
drinking, the film crowd was livlier than usual — groping dates, dancing to
’80s hits, and other insanity.