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PARK CITY '07 DAILY DISPATCH | Sundance Courts Online Community of Film Lovers; Fest Hits Busy Openi

By Indiewire | Indiewire January 20, 2007 at 5:25AM

With the opening night festivities finished, Friday saw the first full day of screenings in Park City as large crowds descended upon the many theater venues in town. Reviews are beginning to seep out and discussions about the merits of individual films are underway, just as the party scene heats up the typically jammed opening weekend.
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With the opening night festivities finished, Friday saw the first full day of screenings in Park City as large crowds descended upon the many theater venues in town. Reviews are beginning to seep out and discussions about the merits of individual films are underway, just as the party scene heats up the typically jammed opening weekend.

[indieWIRE will continue to publish daily throughout the weekend from Park City, get the latest anytime in indieWIRE's special section here at indieWIRE.com.]

John Cooper: Building Audiences and Expanding the Festival (Online)

A part of the Sundance team for some 18 years, festival programming chief John Cooper noted during a conversation with indieWIRE yesterday that each year at the festival offers something new. "It hasn't been the same year at this place ever," Cooper quipped during a chat at the Sundance HQ in Park City. "This year Sundance is aimed at creating a festival experience for those who can't make it to Park City. We are extending what we do here into the outside world."

iW: Video clip link - indieWIRE On The Scene in Park City, Episode 2, including footage from the the interview with Sundance Director of Programming John Cooper.

"The Institute's goal has been to build audiences for independent film," explained Cooper, the director of creative development at Sundance Institute and director of programming for the Sundance Film Festival. "The biggest platform for that is the Sundance Film Festival."

Organizers have expanded Sundance's online venue in recent years, growing the festival's presence on the Internet and this year. Through a partnership with iTunes, Sundance is offering short films and a number of panels discussions, podcasts and music performances for download. Shorts are being sold for $1.99 with the filmmakers receiving part of the revenues.

"It's a lot of dialogue," Cooper added. About the new online offerings, "That's what makes the festival interesting...the dialogue, the film culture, being part of this community of independent film. We are trying to to make that available to a lot more people."

Wrapping up our chat with Cooper, we gave him a chance to weigh in on the prominent "Focus on Film" buttons that are seen on organizers and attendees, particularly as the infamously crowded first weekend of parties and gifting gets underway alongside the festival.

"We've had a lot of problem with the parasitic marketing and swag bags and all that junk that comes around," Cooper said candidly. "All that's fun, but what we are really trying to focus on is the films and the filmmakers."

Parties and Swag as Park City Hits Opening Weekend

While the trough of gifting, branding and sponsored party houses seems to have ebbed a bit compared to the gluttony of recent years, there are still plenty of options to satiate the hedonist within, especially over the next few days. In the higher caste of Park City events are the Sundance film parties that can run the gamut on the indulgence scale, but are nevertheless well sought after invitations. iW gives a breakdown on some of the film parties (as well as others) going on in the first several days of the Sundance Film Festival.

Friday night's film bashes included "Snow Angels" at The Premiere Film & Music Lounge, this year situated at one of Main Street's principal party throw-down venues, the Riverhorse Cafe (on a side note, if anyone from "Zoo" is looking to have a soiree, Riverhorse would be a very apropos spot -- just a thought). Film sales company Cinetic is representing "Snow Angels," which is written and directed by David Gordon Green ("Undertow") and is screening in the dramatic competition.

First Look Pictures unveiling two new films on the first weekend and each will be hosting parties to celebrate the honor, including director Tommy O'Haver's Sundance premieres section feature "An American Crime" from Killer Films (on Friday night) and Gregg Araki's "Smiley Face," at the Riverhorse. Araki's ("Mysterious Skin") latest is screening in Sundance's Park City at Midight section on Saturday.

On Saturday, PlanetOut celebrates "the best in gay & lesbian short films" at Cisero's on Main Street. Later that day, the Canadians head south again to Park City hosting a bash, though this year's soiree is reportedly going to be sans the Canadian Mounties. Nevertheless our brethren from the Great White North know how to kick up their heels, and will do so at the Canadian Lounge spotlighting their films here, including Sarah Polley's premieres section film "Away From Her" with Julie Christie, Gordon Pinsent and Olympia Dukakis.

Sunday --- keep it Holy -- boasts about a dozen events listed on indieWIRE's own cheat-sheet including the "My Kid Could Paint That" bash (directed by Amir Bar-Lev, doc competition) and "The Ten" party on Main Street (directed by David Wain, screening in Park City at Midnight). While the eye candy inside the party will undoubtedly be primo considering "Ten"'s heavy star-wattage cast including Paul Rudd, Adam Brody, Jessica Alba, Winona Ryder, Liev Schreiber and more, the real scene will probably be outside with those ubiquitous VIPs of entitlement schmoozing (or bitching) their way passed the queue to get inside.

Sunday morning revelers in need of a couple of mimosas or a few bloodies can head down to the annual Outfest Queer Brunch. Still more Sunday happenings are the POV Anniversary party, the Participant Productions party, and the Ray Ban Visionary Award reception, which this year will honor Aaron Eckhart. Also being honored Sunday are Sony Pictures Classics co-presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard who will both receive the Hollywood Reporter's first ever "Indie Mogul Award."

Kick off the workweek right Monday with a soiree in honor of doc competition film "For the Bible Tells Me So" (directed by Daniel Karslake) at Queer Lounge in its new digs at the Silver King. The San Francisco Film Society and SF360 will host their bash Monday evening (also in honor of indieWIRE's 10th anniversary -- thanks guys!), while Justin Theroux's Spectrum film "Dedication" goes off on Main. Netflix's Red Envelope will have its throw down beginning early evening as will director/screenwriters Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern ("The Trials of Darryl Hunt") for their latest, "The Devil Came on Horseback" (Spectrum). And finally (until tomorrow that is), Cinetic will once again host their uber popular party at Zoom (be on the list, and come early).

An assortment of swag spots and sponsored venued round out the list of hot spots this year, from the new The Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition Cafe offering free meals and music each day, refreshingly in an open to the public spot (333 Main Street, 2nd Floor), to the private Delta Sky Lodge (also site of the WireImage studio), and any number of exclusive celebrity gifting sites.


Inside indieWIRE On the Scene: Park City


REVIEW | The Kids Aren't Alright, But They Can Be: Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine's "War Dance"

Steve Ramos reviews the film "War Dance," which is screening in Sundance's Documentary Competition section in today's indieWIRE. He discusses Sean Fine and Andrea Nix's deviance from typical African documentary templates.

REVIEW | Weapons: Aiming for Oblivion

Anthony Kaufman reviews the film "Weapons," which is screening in Sundance's Dramatic Competition in today's indieWIRE. He finds that the film shows the "barrenness of teenage-life and their lackadaisical attitude towards death and murder."

REVIEW | Lady Jaws: Mitchell Lichtenstein's "Teeth"

Steve Ramos reviews the film "Teeth," which is screening in Sundance's Dramatic Competition in today's indieWIRE. Ramos calls the film "a silly, splatter movie about a teen girl with G Spot canines."

INTERVIEW | Jessica Woodworth: "One fine blue sky day we said simultaneously 'shove it all, let's do fiction.'"

The Sundance World Dramatic Competition directors of "Khadak" (husband/wife team Peter Brosens and Jessica Wordworth) talk about their transition from documentary to fiction and the myriad of tremendous challenges that they faced during production in their interview in today's indieWIRE.


INTERVIEW | JJ Lask: "My approach to making a film is like robbing a bank. It's a heist. Filmmaking is the greatest heist."

The Sundance Dramatic Competition director of "On the Road with Judas" (JJ Lask) discusses why he abandoned his script and why filmmaking is the greatest heist in his interview in today's indieWIRE.


INTERVIEW | Uli Gaulke: "For me filmmaking is all about listening, spending time with people, submersing myself in alien lifestyles and walking a mile in the shoes of my characters."

The Sundance World Documentary Competition director of "Comrades in Dreams" (Uli Gaulke) talks about the elements he includes in all of his films, the adventure of finding ANUP in India, and how he ended up with a life "filled with the scent of dreams and celluloid" in his interview in today's indieWIRE.


INTERVIEW | Dan Klores: "I've found that in general, people want to support or encourage you, but as soon as you meet the lawyers, your problems begin."

The Sundance Documentary Competition director of "Crazy Love" (Dan Klores) discusses his unique way of making a living until he was 30 years old, what drew him to the subjects of his film, and the desperate circumstances that led him to become a filmmaker in his interview in today's indieWIRE.


Get the latest coverage of Park City '07 in indieWIRE's special section here at indieWIRE.com

This article is related to: Features, Festival Dispatch