DAILY NEWS: Sundance Logistics and New This Week
with articles by Anthony Kaufman and Maud Kersnowski/indieWIRE
>> PARK CITY 2002: More Snow and Fewer Parties for Sundance 2002 ... but the parking still sucks
by Maud Kersnowski/indieWIRE
(indieWIRE: 11.29.01) -- If you think it's too late to make plans to go to
Sundance this year, you're wrong. Room and ticket packages are still
available. Roundtrip airfare from JFK to Salt Lake on Jet Blue is $241.
Expect fewer media, more security and fewer parties as a result of the tight
economy and September 11. Also, plan on taking the town shuttle. Parking and
traffic will be bad, even by Sundance standards, because of the media prep
for February's Olympics. But there's already 50 inches of snow on the ground
(with more on the way) and Park City has night skiing.
Most years, ticket packages virtually sell out on the day they're released.
However, this year all levels of packages, except the $200 "Daytimer", are
available in limited quantities. "There are a number of packages that are
available now," festival co-director Geoff Gilmore told indieWIRE earlier
this week. He indicated that is due in part to the economy and the "things
going on in the independent world."
Many of the hotels still have space available. But rooms, like the tickets,
probably won't last. Even at the ultra-upscale Stein Erickson Lodge they're
planning on renting every room. "We're confident we'll sellout by the
beginning of the festival as usual," director of real estate Claire Jackson
Security at Sundance will definitely be increased this year, although
specific policies have not been established yet. Organizers are consulting
federal, state and local authorities in addition to the Olympics' security
experts. Festival-goers should plan on carrying identification with them.
There won't be any slipping into the back of screenings or panel for just a
few minutes this year. "Nobody will get into any event without a ticket,
badge or ID," Nicole Guillemet told indieWIRE earlier this week.
The Olympics, which begin on February 8th, aren't taking up hotel space
during Sundance, but the games are filling up the Park City parking lots
during the festival. Members of the international media will be in the
middle of building their Park City base in hotel parking lots, most notably
at Shadow Ridge's. While festival-goers have never been allowed to park in
this area, it's a favorite illegal stop.
"The only real difference is that we'll get fewer angry calls from people
who were towed for parking there," Sundance Spokesman RJ Millard said. The
broadcast crews and their trucks will be moving in and out of town daily
making traffic even slower. "Every year we tell people to use the shuttles.
This may be the year they listen," Millard added.
Even though the traffic will be worse, Park City's annual Sundance media
invasion will be a bit less overwhelming this year. Though most of the major
magazines and news organizations will still be present, their staffs at the
festival, like those back at their home offices, have shrunk. "They're all
sending somebody. Maybe not the five they used to, but they're sending two or
three this year," Millard said.
And while Sundance nightlife will be far from dead, it may in fact be a
little quieter. A few of the major invites won't be going out this year.
Both AmFAR and IFC are skipping 2002, canceling their annual parties. The
festival itself has been gradually decreasing its role as party host over
the last few years. This time it will pare down the closing night bash to a
more restrained "awards ceremony." The traditional Friday night party and
opening night gala will go on as usual. Around town, popular party spots Zoom
and Harry O's report being booked as heavily as ever for the festival. "It's
going to be a madhouse just like it always is," Harry O's owner Doug Illman
The large corporate house parties that marked last year may be less
prevalent, though. If the economic downturn isn't making the big names stay
home, the neighbors just might. The Homeowners' Association of Solamere,
where many of the large rental houses are located, convinced the city to
prohibit street parking between midnight and 6:00am. This ban is specifically
aimed at discouraging Sundance parties in residential neighborhoods. "We love
the festival, but we'd like to see the parties move to commercial areas zoned
for them," Solamere Homeowners' Association board member Howard Kadwict
explained. "Any neighborhood anywhere would be extremely disrupted by nightly
parties of over 300 starting at 2:00 a.m."
"I certainly understand their concerns, but that's the responsibility of the
condominium and home owners who rent to individuals and corporations,"
commented Nicole Guillemet. "Those are not festival sponsored parties.
There's really nothing we can do,"
Other big changes for 2002 include that the festival won't be mailing out
its program guide. Instead, the catalogue will be online at sundance.org
starting December 10. (The lineup was posted on indieWIRE.com and other
sites this week). Printed catalogues will still be available during the
festival and separate paper schedules detailing daily Sundance events will
Finally, there is the distinct possibility of a venue change. The Holiday
Cinema is currently being renovated and may not be ready to screen films by
opening day. The festival has arranged for an alternative screening space.
The economy, Olympics, and September 11 are all affecting Sundance this
year, just as the cultural climate has always changed the festival. During
the technology boom of the late 90's there were more dot-commers than
filmmakers in Park City. Last year, the avalanche of corporate profits from
2000 funded extravagant parties and jetted-in models. Many things remain the
same: traffic, snow, parties and films. And the two weeks of Sundance will
still be the quietest two weeks on the Park City slopes.
>> NEW THIS WEEK: French New and Old, Exploitation, and indie-Bollywood
by Anthony Kaufman/indieWIRE
(indieWIRE: 11.29.01) -- It's a slow week for new independent releases. And
there's not much coherence to a group that includes Michael Haneke's latest,
a revival of two Jacques Demy works, documentaries on fat, furry porn star
Ron Jeremy and exploitation director Morty Fineman and the latest drama for the American Hindu Gen-X set. Perhaps it's a good thing, as each new release
this weekend seems to have its own niche with little risk of taking tickets
away from each other.
Cannes 2000 competition entry "Code Unknown," from Austrian Michael Haneke (director of "Funny Games," and the upcoming Cannes 2001 entry "The Piano Teacher"), will play in limited release across the country, starting this
Friday at New York's Quad Cinema (from Leisure Time Features). Originally with the subheading: "Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys," the French
language film follows several characters through a multicultural Paris
loaded with miscommunication, racism, and brutality. Juliette Binoche plays
a young actress caught in the middle of Haneke's challenging polemic, which
Variety called "reasonably compelling thanks to its sustained intensity and
several powerful scenes, but it's a grim intellectual exercise."
Arthouse distrib Winstar, newly restructured and independent from its
flailing parent company, are back in the art-film market with a pair of
revivals from French filmmaker Jacques Demy, the husband of Agnes Varda who
is most famous for his candy-colored musical, "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."
A couple of weeks ago the company launched the much-loved "Lola," the 1961
black and white Anouk Aimee charmer at New York's Film Forum. "Lola" will wander to other cities around the country beginning next year. While in New
York this week, "Bay of Angels," Demy's 1963 Jeanne Moreau triumph, will
start its country-wide run at the Forum, as well.
Once called "a magical, whirling little film" by esteemed critic Pauline
Kael, "Angels" follows Moreau, at her most ravishing, through the highs and
lows of the French Riviera's tenuous casino lifestyle. Both in new 35mm
prints, "Lola" and "Bay of Angels" recall a blissful time in movie-going
when U.S. audiences clamored for the latest black and white subtitled
wonder, and the revival theater was a standard, not an endangered species,
in most major American cities.
Now, more often than not, we have to settle for "Porn Star: The Legend of
Ron Jeremy." Actually, this documentary portrait of the infamous, tubby sex
jockey is a somewhat illuminating look at the superficiality of the
American Dream. Jeremy, known for his large member and Olympian potency (a
record-breaking 14 women in a row), remains a tragic figure, claiming that
all he wants from life is to be a legitimate thespian. But after 1,600 blue
movies, the money and the fame, Jeremy seems destined to pathetic stand-up
routines in strip clubs and bit parts in films like "Detroit Rock City" and
"Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger Part 4." While Jeremy's story and
obsessive quirks make for light entertainment, producer-director-editor
Scott J. Gill spends too much time inflating Jeremy's already fragile ego.
More a flattering tribute, than a penetrating look at the legend, "Porn
Star" ultimately feels like something for E! rather than a theatrical
documentary (being released in New York and Los Angeles from Maelstrom
Entertainment). Jeremy, sadly, seems fated once again to the video bins.
Another story of independent film's grungier side comes in Arrow
Entertainment's release of "The Independent." The film is a portrait of
legendary Roger Corman-esque exploitation director Morty Fineman (played by Jerry Stiller), a fictive filmmaker who has directed, produced and written 427 films, with titles like "Teenie Weenie Bikini Beach" and "Cheerleader Camp Massacre." With daughter Paloma (Janeane Garofalo) at his side, Stephen Kessler's mockumentary catches up with Fineman during hard times as debts are mounting. Featuring plenty of celebrity cameos (Corman himself, Ron Howard and Peter Bogdanovich), "The Independent" is a fun, flattering ode to the lowest of low budget mavens, with filmmaker-specific humor welcomed at
festival showings from Slamdunk to SXSW 2000. For more on Fineman's career, there's no better place (or clever marketing hook) than at their website:
Finally, Eros Entertainment, which labels itself as "the largest distributor
of Bollywood content worldwide," will unveil "ABCD," aka "American Born
Confused Desi," an indie story about Raj and Nina, first generation Asian
Indian immigrants, and their mother, Anju -- all dealing with problems of
cultural identity and Indian tradition. "ABCD" retains the widest opening of
any of this week's releases, in the top 15 U.S. markets and select cities in
Canada. It's nice to know when you have a built-in audience.