Outside the Holiday Village theater yesterday, a small gathering of press had assembled around a group of people in the parking lot. A CBS crew and a Reuters cameraman were shooting members of the opposing sides of the national immigration debate. Joseph Mathew's "Crossing Arizona," screening in the festival's documentary competition, takes a look at the tense stand-off that is occurring along the U.S./Mexican border in Arizona, which has seen thousands die since the mid '90s. The film spotlights the crisis through the personal accounts of Mike Wilson, an Indian living on native land that has become a popular route for migrants, and who works to leave jugs of water in the desert for the people heading north. Ray Ybara works at the A.C.L.U., fighting for migrants' rights and monitoring a civil group known as the Minutemen who made headlines last year by policing the border to stem the flow of illegal aliens.
Minutemen leader Chris Simcox joined Ybara, Wilson, Mathew and "Crossing Arizona" producer Dan DeVivo for a lively Q & A following the screening. Most in the audience seemed to sympathize with the migrants, but there were several lively dissenters. "How many illegals is finally too much? One million? Two million? Ten million? All of Mexico? When does the number of migrants become too much for you?" asked one audience member to Ybara. Wilson chimed in that as a Native American, his ancestors probably asked the same thing back in 1491. Simcox argued that allowing the flow of illegal workers into the country comes down to a moral issue.
"It's immoral to have people come here and engaging in an underground economy with no [labor] laws protecting them," Simcox said, "I say, secure the border and then create a viable migrant worker program for legal immigrants who come here via a point of entry." They seemed to acknowledge that the controversy won't be ending soon, but Wilson concluded, "nobody deserves to die in the desert because of no water."
Friday Night on Main
The traditional swarms of people cruising along Main Street on the first Friday of Sundance did not fail to materialize despite very cold temperatures. Harry O's, of course, was packed. Actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna (who is in town in support of his film "Solo Dios Sabe," directed by Carlos Bolado) hosted a Latin music night at the crowded scenester venue.
The Canadians held their bash up the street for their roster of films at the festival, including world dramatic competition film "Eve & the Fire Horse" by Julia Kwan. One person at the party joked, "I thought Canada had lots of space..." in response to the packed event. The Canadian Counsel General along with a bonafide Canadian Mountie all dressed for the occasion held a drawing for a free trip for two to Vancouver. SXSW production manager Jarod Neece was the lucky winner.
Later, the indieWIRE crew and friends headed down to a very nice party for "Open Window" by Mia Goldman, screening in the Spectrum section. Good food, nice crowd, but not overly jammed like most Sundance events. Film Independent's Dawn Hudson and Netflix chief Ted Sarando's were among the peeps having a comfortable chat. Kudos to the organizers of this party!
"Slevin" Party Madness
After some schmoozing, wine and food, some headed out to Glamdance at Queer Lounge. One friend headed up to the party for "Lucky Number Slevin" (directed by Paul McGuigan). indieWIRE received text messages from the anonymous friend with the minute by minute update on the jammed-packed party. The flow went something like this:
Anonymous: Ugh, that party was sooo annoying.
indieWIRE: I had a feeling it would be.
Anonymous: I mean, once you got past the guest list, then you had to wait in line AGAIN to actually enter the party. There was a line and a pre-line, but, it's something you have to check out and here's the thing...
Anonymous: You would get in with the pre-line, but once you waited in line to actually step inside... they were like "sorry, capacity." So it's like, you're in but still waiting outside in the cold lame, so waited in the cold for like 15 minutes and then just left...
All Tomorrow's Parties... (a quick rundown of some of Saturday night's soirees):
- Begin the day with beauty: 3:50pm Imogen Heap and Rufus Wainwright at Music Cafe across the street from Slamdance HQ at Treasure Mountain Inn
- Q Television Party at Queer Lounge (food and booze): 8 p.m. - midnight
- "Stephanie Daley" premiere party, Levi House on Main Street, 10:30pm
- Sony BMG Film Launch party 9:30 p.m. - 1 a.m. at Premiere Film and Music Lounge (including booze and food).
- Entertainment Weekly party at The Shop, 10 p.m.
- "Thank You for Smoking" party: (Fox Searchlight and Room 9) at The Smoking Room (apparently you have to pick up invites before), 11 p.m.
- "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Sherrybaby" --"Big Beach" party -- VW Lounge, 4 p.m.
- "Somebodies" premiere party at Leaf Lounge: 9 p.m. - midnight
- Hart Sharp and IFC premiere party for "The Night Listener" at the VW Lounge: 10 p.m. to 1 a.m..
- Overheard: Alanis Morrissette at Starbar at 9pm from Sprint)
- And then there is of course Harry O's...