Day 1: Pico and the Sundance Kid

According to weather.com it's currently 11° F in Park City but it feels like 0° F with the wind chill. That's nearly 50° lower than Los Angeles, but I'm braving the cold to watch independent film and hobnob with celebrities! Poor me!

(Quick sidenote: being a knitter comes in handy in this absolutely frigid weather. Sundance may be the only place I get to wear all my hand-knit garments.)

I was able to fit in four screenings today. Let me tell you a bit about them:

Shorts Program III

(8:30 a.m. - Library Theatre - had tickets, no waiting in line necessary)

We met the shorts programmer on the bus to this screening, and she informed us that over 4000 films were submitted this year. That's a hell of a lot of films. Of course, my first thought was "Well, they better be damn good." Luckily, they were all pretty well done. Only one film was a bit disappointing in the bunch. It was called "Welcome" that starred Winona Ryder and was written and directed by Kirsten Dunst. Honestly, the short was decent, but I can guarantee that if those names weren't attached there's no way it would have been picked for the festival, so that really rubs me the wrong way.

I highly recommend the following shorts: "Spider," "Crossbow," and "Sikumi." I believe they'll be available on iTunes soon. When they are, I'll post a link.

Slingshot Hip Hop

(11:30 a.m. - Prospector Square Theatre - had tickets)

In the interest of full disclosure, I need to tell you that I'm friends with Nizar Wattad, a.k.a. Ragtop whose album helped fund this film.

Conflict of interest aside, this was still a great documentary about Palestinian rappers. The film was engaging, exciting, and left you hopeful for peace. That and rap is fun to dance to.

A bunch of the hip hop artists featured in the film were at the screening. They performed for us, and I got some fuzzy video of it:

(There are 3 more videos on my youtube page if you're interested. Don't be distracted by the silly cat videos.)

I got me a picture with a bunch of the rappers, too.

Slingshot Guys

American Soldier, a.k.a. The Recruiter

(2:30 p.m. - Prospector Square Theatre - wait list #56)

This movie has many names. Well, just two, but that's more than most movies. In the program, it's listed as "American Solider," but the director of programming announced that the name had been changed to "The Recruiter" before the screening began. If anyone wants to know my two cents, I think "American Soldier" was better. Anywho...

This was a documentary about Sergeant First Class Clay Usie, one of most successful Army recruiters in America. It follows him and four recruits in Houma, Lousiana as they graduate from high school, go through basic training, and get deployed to Iraq. It was undeniably disturbing to watch pimply-faced 17 and 18 year-olds enlist in the U.S. Army. It was very sad to listen to the parents discuss the possibility of their children dying in the war. All in all, a good film.


(6:15 p.m. - Eccles Theatre - wait list #136 then #86)

We went to wait list for Transsiberian, a film in the premiere category that starred Woody Harrelson, Ben Kingsley, Emily Mortimer, and others. We arrived as they were giving out the wait list numbers, and we scored numbers 136-138. This wasn't very promising. After getting our numbers, we had 90 minutes to kill before having to get back in line, so I went back to the hotel and my dad and stepmom decided to head to Main Street.

Apparently, they were selling cool electric motorcycles on Main Street and my dad got all caught up checking out all their zero-emissions glory. They lost track of time, and I found myself alone in the wait-list line at the Eccles. After calling them, it became clear that they wouldn't make it back in time, so I decided to see the movie alone. Chatting up my fellow line-waiters, I found out that someone had an extra wait list number and since I was the only person flying solo, I got to jump ahead in line to #86. Then a guy came by trying to sell a single ticket, so I thought I'd buy it from him until I discovered he wanted to charge $50. Fifty bucks! Wait list tickets are $10. I declined, and got in to the screening from the wait list with no problems. Ha! Take that, Sundance ticket scalper!

Oh yeah, the film. It was great, a real nail-biter. The director, Brad Anderson, pulled off the suspense very well. Woody Harrelson was pretty hilarious, and Ben Kingsley was amazing, as usual. Emily Mortimer also pulled off a brilliant performance.

Here's a very bad picture of the director and Ben Kingsley:

Brad Anderson & Sir Ben Kinglsey

And I'll end today's post with my....
Daily Celebrity-Sighting List

  • Ben Kingsley

  • Emily Mortimer

  • Kate Mara

  • Woody Harrelson

  • Eduardo Noriega

  • David Blue

  • Magic Johnson (in the Burbank airport... kind of counts!)


-K said...

Nice!!! How come Nazir wasn't there?

Steve said...

Cool. Thanks for the reporting. Its like being there, but being jealous at the same time. I was one of those 4k film submitted. So you tell me if any of them are worse than Helmet!

Shanna said...

Cool! I'm loving the updates.
Stay warm!