Our final full day at Sundance almost neverwas for me, thanks to an odd illness I suffered in the early hours in the morning. Luckily, I recovered, and made it out of the condo for a couple of meetings. And, then, it was onto an insanely jam-packed evening of events (read: parties). It seems that, at every film festival, there is one night when parties are piled atop one another. Why Monday? Perhaps because it’s the first weeknight of the festival, with a feeling that folks will have a clear schedule. Or, maybe several of these parties coordinated it to thin out overcrowding? I doubt the latter, and believe the former.
Whatever it was, Monday started off hectic with the enjoyable-and-crowded Picturehouse cocktail party at Zoom. As soon as I arrived, though, you got a sense that people were already venturing out to the next event. But, here’s example #1 why festival parties are actually work: we need to figure out if SXSW can still program the documentary, King of Kong (a film we liked when it was submitted to us), despite the fact that it was acquired by New Line and Picturehouse right out of Park City. More on those results in a few weeks. Following the Picturehouse party, many headed to the soiree co-hosted by the San Francisco Film Society and indieWIRE. In a great space, and full of great people, the event was cozy and fun (as expected). So far, so good, then. This is when the night got off to an even busier start.
David Wilson, from the True/False Film Festival, and I made our way up Main Street for two simultaneous parties. One, for Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern’s The Devil Came on Horseback, and the other for Netflix’s Red Envelope division. We did both, and they were highly disparate events. The Devil Came on Horseback, the new doc from the team behind last year’s Trials of Darryl Hunt, is a powerful and sobering examination of the conflict in Darfur, told from the POV of one American soldier. It’s a super-charged and enlightening documentary, and will shed some much-needed light on the problems in Sudan. I highly recommend it. The party, of course, was a sobering and calm event featuring singer-songwriter performances. Attendees at the festival have placed The Devil Came on Horseback alongside other Sundance battlefield docs such as Charles Ferguson’s No End in Sight and Andrea Nix Fine & Sean Fine’s War/Dance.
The Red Envelope party was another bash at Riverhorse, with a good crowd and a great chance to finally connect with Netflix folks Liesl Copland and Rob Williams. Plus, I ran into Austin-based cinematographer Lee Daniel, co-founder of the Austin Film Society and DP of Laura Dunn’s Sundance doc The Unforeseen. I’m not one for gift bags, but apparently the ones at this shindig included DVDs of recent releases like Sherrybaby. And, for the first time, I regretted not being someone who cares about swag.
Immediately after this dynamic duo of parties, a group of us were unsure what to do next. The annual behemoth that is the Cinetic party at Sundance, was minutes from commencing. Still, eager guests lined up outside Zoom a good 30 minutes early. The Cinetic party is always a madhouse. But that’s only because Cinetic is such a respected and powerful indie-film company and always hosts a fun time. We got in on the early side for the party, and had a blast. It was one of those parties that was incredibly impossible to exit. It really felt like everyone was there. And, true to form, Cinetic head John Sloss was holding court in the upstairs of Zoom while distributors took turns to negotiate about Sundance films unknown (Cinetic is repping several handfuls of titles here). Were they negotiating La Misma Luna? Dedication? The Ten? All of the above?
No matter what, the distributor attention was heavy, with the heads of Lionsgate, Fox Searchlight, First Look, and Miramax all checking in for their few minutes with Sloss. Hell, even Harvey Weinstein sat down for a few minutes of pitching. It was really fascinating to watch firsthand. And, I’m sure there will be a sale or two to announce from it, within hours. Speaking of sales, word is that the next hot title will be Garth Jennings’ Son of Rambow. It apparently played through the roof, and some industry folks speculated that the bidding war tonight could yield the most expensive sale of the festival. Stayed tuned on that one.
One film on the Cinetic slate that deserves a bidding war, is Chris Smith’s The Pool. The mesmerizing and beautiful story of a young Indian boy’s infatuation with a wealthy man’s swimming pool, its an awesome experience. I was thankful to have the chance to see Chris personally at the Cinetic party, and let him know this. Also at the Cinetic party, was Joshua director George Ratliff, allowing me a chance to gush more about his impressive film, as well as compare our times spent working for the University of Texas newspaper, The Daily Texan (about seven years apart from one another).
The Cinetic party was the perfect way to cap our Sundance trip. Jarod and I will try to do some work before the airport trip tomorrow, but Sundance 2007 is pretty much a wrap on our end. There is plenty of festival remaining, and the Austin Film Society crew will be coming up to Park City on Tuesday, just as we’re departing. But, life moves on, everywhere. The Academy Award nominations will be announced in three hours and, within weeks, it will be time for the SXSW Film Festival.
Biggest Buzz Films of the Day: Garth Jennings’ Son of Rambow, Patricia Riggen’s La Misma Luna, John Carney’s Once, Justin Theroux’s Dedication
Film I’m Most Curious About Tomorrow: Taika Waiti’s Eagle vs. Shark, Tom Hooper’s Longford (written by Peter Morgan)
Party of the Day: Cinetic