PARK CITY '99: Dances Galore in Park City
This year the well established Slamdance Film Festival celebrates its
fifth year with its strongest line-up yet. Once again taking refuge at
the Treasure Mountain Inn at the top of Main Street, mad hatter Dan
Mirvish, Festival Director Peter Baxter and the gang return to present
19 features selected from nearly 2,000 films making it statistically
more difficult for a filmmaker to get into Slamdance than Sundance.
How's that for success?
The film festival whose slogan is "by filmmakers for filmmakers" is also
presenting a series of panels in the form of "fireside chats" (actually
a big screen TV with a video fireplace, but it is rather warm in the
room). Subjects range from screenplay readings to Australian and British
indie cinema. In addition, short films can be seen all day for free in
the lounge area.
Besides the number of musical celebs hanging around from Perry Farrell's
opening film "Three Days" to Sheryl Crow's concert appearance
supporting the score she wrote for "Dill Scallion," celebrity-spotters might
have seen author Ken Kesey hanging out around the Inn, and olympic
athlete Carl Lewis introducing Paul Jay's "Hitman Hart, Wrestling with
Shadows," which finally answers the nagging question "Is professional
wrestling really fake?" (It is.) Of other highlights at Slamdance,
there's the festival's first distributor acquisition, "Following,"
Christopher Nolan's drama about a writer who follows
strangers from a crowd to garner material for his story and draw him
into a web of destruction. Zeitgeist Films will release "Following"
later this year.
One can't go on without mentioning the porn documentary, "The Girl Next
Door" (Dir. Christine Fugate), Slamdance's adult documentary answer to
Sundance's "Sex: The Annabel Chong Story." Selected from 8 docs
submitted about the porn industry, "Girl" follows Stacy Valentine in her
rise from a relatively normal existence as a housewife from Oklahoma to
an adult film star. Featuring graphic sex scenes and even more graphic
on screen surgeries (boob job, liposuction) the film gives new meaning
to the term "DP" - and it doesn't mean "Director of Photography."
Another strong documentary is "My Friend Paul," directed by Jonathan
Berman, who received a call from his childhood friend, Paul, who had
been serving a 10 year sentence for a string of unarmed bank robberies
in San Francisco. While Berman starts out mapping Paul's descent from
Vassar to prison, the film becomes about how the filmmaker himself copes
with a friend from whom he cannot consciously walk away.
"Chi Girl" (Dir. Heidi Van Lier) is one part-narrative, one-part
mockumentary. The film follows a girl around Chicago who makes a bet
that she can get any man to come home with her. "Dill Scallion" (Dir.
Jordan Brady), yet another mockumentary, this time about a country
bumpkin and his journey to the top of those "moma lovin'", "cousin
marryin'" country charts. With cameos from Kathy Griffin, Jason Priestly,
Peter Berg and the "Fonz" himself, Henry Winkler.
Also notable is."Man of the Century" (Dir. Adam Abraham) Johnny
Twennies, a fast-talking journalist right out of the "talkies" of the
1920's living in the modern world. This high-concept indie is fresh and
original. Rumor has it that the filmmakers are pitching this one to
Hollywood as a television show in which the lead character will appear
in black and white a la "Pleasantville."
One great short in the program is "Billy's Balloon" (Dir. Don
Herzfeldt), a hilarious animated short by award-winning filmmaker Don
Herzfeldt follows the exploits of a boy and his abusive balloon's
attempts to kill him. The most fun you'll have in five minutes in the
Located: Harry O's, 427 Main St.
Highlights: "Red White and Yellow" (80 min.) This documentary tells the
compelling story of Ed Kratchie, the 390 lb. US hot dog eating champion
from Queens whose title is threatened by a 136 lb. Japanese student.
Located: Raddison Inn on Park Ave.
Highlights: MovieMaker magazine Timothy Rhys' feature directing debut
"Men in Scoring Position".
Located: 1509 Park Avenue near the library.
Highlights: "Naked Acts" by Bridgett Davis.
Located: This one day event took place on Thursday, January 28th, at
the Silver Mine.
Highlights: Probably not the Stan Brakhage films (have you ever seen
"Mothlight"?) but the promised scantily-clad ladies look promising.
[They weren't. Ed.]