I counted about 45 invitations to Sundance parties, dinners and receptions for the 2010 event, which came to its final conclusion Sunday. For some of the parties, however, merely receiving an invitation and RSVPing does not guarantee admission. IFC Films, for instance, had a party at one of the still ubiquitous (though not as many as there once was) sponsored sites concentrated around Main Street in Park City…
“Even if you have an invitation, you’re not getting in!” yelled one bouncer as people crowded around the door. Call us jaded, but with that, we said, “OK, next,” and went off to the Late Night Lounge – a semi-private bar/lounge/dance floor inside the Filmmakers Lodge on Main Street. (Advice to future Sundancers, try and score a sticker which allows you entry.) The drinks there weren’t cheap and sometimes the music was too loud, but it was a great place to run into friends, filmmakers and fellow revelers. Straight, gay, filmmakers, publicists, Sundance programmers, actors, hotties, it was all there. I think I did hear one or two people say they didn’t like it, but most people gave a thumbs up, and returned night after night. LNL seemed to get better as the week progressed once most of the official parties tapered off after Tuesday.
Sundance founder Robert Redford and festival director John Cooper opened the fest last a week-and-a-half ago (god, was that really 10 days ago?) with an opening chat. That night, there was an “opening party” for “Howl” at the Village at the Yard (another sponsored house), which brought in the first wave of fest-goers. Village at the Yard had a number of parties, and offered a couple of venues as well as an outdoor are that included inner-tubing. “Blue Valentine” star Ryan Gosling even took advantage of the tubing (lucky inner-tube!!)
HBO hosted one of the nicest evenings at Sundance this year. The premium cable network hosted its annual dinner for its filmmakers and guests at The Canyons resort just outside of Park City – very classy! Nice event! One New York-based publicist who works for a company that typically concentrates on high-end events told us, “Finally, a nice party! Not one of those cheesy houses where you’re packed in, served watered down drinks in a dixie cup with scoarching loud music…” Among the attendees were the directing duo for “12th & Delaware,” Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing with HBO’s Sara Bernstein and Sundance Senior Programmer Caroline Libresco.
“Super Size Me” director Morgan Spurlock took time off from serving on the U.S. Documentary Competition jury to join the party along with “Entourage” star Adrian Grenier, who was in town for his directorial effort, “Teenage Paparazzo” along with Jason Spingarn-Koff, producer of “Life 2.0,” which screened in Sundance Documentary Spotlight.
One of the most emotional films in this year’s line-dup was Amir Bar-Lev’s “The Tillman Story.” The film is the story of former NFL star Patrick Tillman who – along with his brother – left a seven-figure contract to serve in the US Army, but was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan. The military, and it is suggested the White House, tried to usurp his story by turning him into a hero who was killed by the Taliban. The Pentagon fabricated the circumstances of his death and awarded him the Silver Star, one of the military’s highest combat-related honors, in order to create a “perfect American hero” to promote support for the war and recruitment. However, his family refused to tote the party line and demanded an investigation, which exposed the dirty lie.
Also a great party is the annual Cinetic Media party at Zoom restarurant on Main Street (owned by none other than Robert Redford himself). This year’s event was also co-hosted with YouTube. Cinetic head John Sloss worked the restaurant’s upstairs, greeting distribution heads and going outside on the balcony to talk biz. The chat of evening was who would get Lisa Cholodenko’s “The Kids Are All Right“, but Focus ended up the final winner.
Julianne Moore chatted with friends including producer Christine Vachon and we were itching to get a photo, but alas, we were not successful (damnit!) We did snap a shot with Vachon along with Strand Releasing co-president Marcus Hu as they took off from the party though.
Actor/director Diego Luna did a fly-by at the Cinetic party as well. He directed “Abel,” which screened in the Sundance Premieres section. This is the actor’s second directorial effort, after making documentary, “J.C. Chavez,” about the Mexican boxer, which premiered in the U.S. at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2007. He is also taking part in a film called “Revolucion,” according to IMDb, which looks at the Mexican Revolution through the eyes of ten directors.
Cinetic chief John Sloss eventually made his way downstairs and chatted with “Holy Rollers” star Justin Bartha. We had also hoped we’d run into Bartha’s co-star, Jesse Eisenberg, who we profiled way back in the day when he was relatively unknown after we saw him co-star in Dylan Kidd’s “Roger Dodger” back in 2002. In this film, based on a true story, Eisenberg plays a Brooklyn Orthodox Jew is lured into Ecstasy smuggling by his friend (Bartha).
We happened upon two of the three main stars from Dramatic Competition film “Lovers of Hate” (by Bryan Poyser) meandering around the party. indieWIRE profiled Poyser after seeing his film at Sundance. Basically, it’s a lovers’ triangle/thriller/disaster. If it comes your way on the festival circuit, check it out. The actors, Chris Doubek and Alex Karpovsky along with Heather Kafka were quite good, and, though it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it is an example of a low budget film that makes the grade.
Of course, not everyone at parties were in front or behind the camera. Sundance programmers Kim Yutani and David Courier (center) along with associate programmer Basil Tsiokos, Cinereach’s Philipp Engelhorn (left) and Hamptons International Film Festival Director of Programming, David Nugent joined the festivities. Though the Cinetic party was crowded, it wasn’t packed, and we did hear some people managed to get in (we won’t say who) by climbing a fence. There were even some rough and tumbles outside in years past to get into the party, which usually takes place on Monday night of the festival, but we didn’t see any of that this time around.
We must say, we’re definitely not fans of the ‘step and repeat’, those ever-present backdrops that have become the scourge of red carpets and otherwise. But we must say they were a brilliant “invention.” The whole backdrop thing allows branding and it certainly must keep the sponsors happy with stars and beautiful people being paraded in front of logos as swarms of photographers snap away. Well, this particular Step and Repeat was pretty small and luckily we were able to get other photos without benefit of the background, but we’ll do it occasionally. Cinetic’s Matt Dentler showed us theirs and since he’s a great friend and all around cool guy, we took the snap. He’s looking great here with Cinetic & YouTube branding along with Sara Pollack (left) and Kelly Seaman (right) from YouTube.
A great place at Sundance to snap pics of your favorite filmmakers/celebrities/attention whores is during the Q&A at the theaters – and so far…. No ‘step and repeats’!! A good example here is with “The Dry Land” director Ryan Piers Williams after a screening of his film at the Eccles Theatre in Park City. His film stars Ryan O’Nan, America Ferrera and Jason Ritter about a soldier who faces trauma settling back into small town life in Texas.