I am Sundance, baby. With director Elgin James of Little Birds. Psst…I think he might win best film in the U.S. Dramatic competition. Little Birds is wonderful.
Woke up feeling refreshed. Finally got a good night’s sleep! Today was supposed to be my “movie” day: 3 films at three different theaters. I started the morning at the press screening of Lord Byron—a very independent film from the NEXT category (up and coming). This is what Sundance is supposed to be about. I loved the first five minutes. It opened with a quote from Muddy Waters and Luis Borges, something about how you can only lose what you never had to begin with. The protagonist is a black, middle-aged, rather overweight, pothead from Louisiana who loves women and has many girlfriends who he loves “totally and completely.” Paul Batiste who plays Byron is promising. The rest of the cast ranges from adequate to amateur. The audience started walking out after 10 minutes, but, damnit, I was invested and I was going to see it out. After about 20 minutes, I could feel the minutes passing by one by one. The story of Byron’s spiritual journey is convoluted but would make an excellent Southern gothic short story. In short, give Lord Byron a miss.
I wake up this morning to a most unfortunate occurence: the receiver on my very old cellular dumbphone is not working. Meaning, I can hear the caller’s voice, but they cannot hear me. If you hear a woman screaming, “Can you hear me? Can you hear me?” on the streets of Park City, that is me. And I do apologize. I keep thinking that it will start working if I just turn the phone off and on. But each time it is a disappointment. My boyfriend and I have devised an effective method of communication where he asks me yes or no questions and stike a key once for yes and twice for no. Needless to say, if you need me, please text.
I leave the hotel around 11am to catch the shuttle into town for my first screening: Becoming Chaz. It’s a documentary about Chastity Bono (daughter of Sonny and Cher) and her transgender struggle. We watch her as she gets her “top surgery” (breast removal) and look at options for “bottom surgery.” I’ll post a review later.
My morning began with an interview with the General Manager of the Hyatt Escala Lodge, Claudia Wattenberg. Claudia is an absolute delight: warm, friendly, popular with her staff, and extremely driven and dedicated. Orginally from Germany, she worked for 13 years as a manager at the Hyatt Maui—that’s Hawaii, people. She was promoted last year to her current position in Park City. Claudia is only one of three women managing Hyatt hotels in the United States. The Hyatt took over the Escala Lodge in November 2010. It is a condo hotel, meaning that all units are for sale. So far, 30 have been sold. There are plans for a new restaurant to open this summer…the first at the Escala. The restaurant featuring casual comfort food is ski in/ski out and open to patrons of The Canyons resort.
Next, it was off to get my press credentials from the Sundance Festival Headquarters at the Park City Marriott. The hotel is buzzing with energy and activity. Filmmakers, journalists, producers mill about the lobby checking iPhones, chatting, talking loudly on cell phones. As I was debating on whether to buy a cup of coffee, I heard Russian being spoken behind me (as a footnote, I lived in St. Petersburg, Russia for 8 years). There are no Russian films showing at this year’s festival, but there is a group of young filmmakers from Moscow here trying to sell their movies. I got a dvd of one film-a romantic comedy-from a young director named Roman Karimov called Inadequate People to screen on my own. Haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, but I’m interested. The Russians certainly aren’t known for romantic comedy. I will be meeting the group later today (tuesday) at the International Filmmakers reception at Kimball Art Center.
So, as soon as I arrived at the Hyatt Escala Lodge at The Canyons resort, I had a mere 40 minutes to wash the stench of Flying J truckstops off me and prepare for an elaborate five course meal at Deer Valley’s most exclusive restaurant: J&G Grill at the St. Regis. Did I mention that it was prepared by Food Network star, Michael Chiarello of Napa Style and Bottega restaurants? Well, the wine was flowing. At one point I had about five glasses in front of me. One of my favorites was a charming white bordeux from Chimney Rock vineyards.
The dinner was a kinda fundraising event for the first annual Napa Valley Film Festival launching next fall. So if you have big money to drop on founding a foodie film fest, movie producers Brenda and Marc Lhormer would like to speak to you. Needless to say, I was seated next to a rather wealthy crowd: real estate developers, vintners, etc. My favorite quote from last night:
- " This is my wife and seated next to her is the sister wife. Just kidding. I’m not in the LDS."
The good news: If California falls into the ocean, everyone can move to Wyoming. There’s nothing there. Endless stretches of brushland with a shack selling fireworks every 100 miles. All the rest stops are closed. There are truck stops, including one called Little America with 50-cent ice cream cones advertised on billboards for miles. The town of Rock Springs has a J.C. Penny’s and a Taco Johns. The speed limit for highway 80 is 75 mph—which means I made the trip from Boulder to Park City, Utah in about seven hours.