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Sundance Feeds Hungry Egos — Some Deserving, Many Not

Sundance Feeds Hungry Egos -- Some Deserving, Many Not

Call it Sundance Head. There
is one sad phenomenon that Sundance Film Festival publicists can’t do anything about: the
fleeting, illusory and oxygen-deprived belief among certain of their clients
that they have become, and will remain, the center of the universe.

Maybe they’ve had
a few good screenings. Maybe they even got a standing ovation (from people,
let’s face it, who are eager to say they’ve been at a movie that got a standing
O, especially if they stood in the cold for an hour to get in). The filmmaker
always knew it would be like this, his/her genius finally recognized, their
place in the lineage of Griffith, Ford, Welles and Kevin Smith finally cemented
by the adulation of the cold, hungry, wet and tired. And in a place that has
spawned so many masterpieces of modern cinema, like “Happythankyoumoreplease.”
Or “The Tao of Dick Cheney.”

It’s a form of dementia, perhaps
unavoidable in some cases, given the white hot media light that shines on Park
City. Sometimes, too, the disorder is simply part of a filmmaker’s DNA: One
such auteur arrived in 1996 with his first feature, and proceeded to leave
interviewers up and down Main Street drop-jawed with his arrogance. He’s matured since then, and is up for a best director Oscar, so perhaps he had a point. Filmmaker Morgan J. Freeman shared his own Sundance Wild Ride.

But the story
of Sundance is rife with stories of filmmakers on the precipice of obscurity,
whose last known words were “Do you know who I am?” One candidate, a
documentary director, is in the mix this year, and it’s almost delicious to
watch his unmaking unfold. He’s been late for every interview. He begins each one by taking a phone call that lasts 10 minutes. He doesn’t go to bed
till 4 a.m., and not before canceling his early morning press events. It’s a
slo-mo self-immolation, around which a frost-bitten press can keep its hands
warm, while waiting for him to get off the phone.

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Chris L.

Was the 1996 director Russell or Payne? It's easy to suspect the former of such behavior, but Flirting with Disaster wasn't his debut, and according to IMDb it didn't play Sundance.

Evidently the nice-guy image I had of Mr. Payne requires some adjustment. Too bad.


Blind Items are only fun if they are about secret gay sex or other weird sex type things. I do like though that there is someone who is such a jerk that you felt the need to make a blind item.

Jinx Mayberry

What happened to the picture of David O. Russell?

I'm here for the laughs

It seems this writer is just another angry "internet critic", upset that an admittedly genuine Sundance buffoon is getting more attention than the writings on this website.

You "internet critics" should really just stick to watching movies and talking about them instead of attempting cultural criticism. Getting rebuffed by neophytes and Sundance d-listers is part of your job.

sherlock jr

This is the start of a really interesting article but where is the rest? John is the right person to do it considering his book on the festival, SUNDANCING where he interviewed a range of participants.

Easy enough to figure out who the debut director was in 1996 but now you have us really curious about this year's doc jerk.

Incremental Jones

Damn, there's a lot of anger and resentment in this "story." Besides, has Sundance and the media really crowned an "it boy" director since Ed Burns in '95? Too many duds that didn't pan out as the next Orson Welles.


Is this the whole article? Really?

Plundered & Tossed

Feels more like tumblr material than news. Shocked to hear about arrogance and wankery at Sundance.


Oh, c'mon John — you just put that doc director on blast. Now you HAVE to go ahead and name names!


Curious to know who the doc director is.

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