Friday, January 25, 2013

Sundance 2013 Journal: Day 1

by Aaron Peck

Seems like just a few months ago I was traipsing around Park City watching brand-new indie movies, and now here I am doing it again. The next nine days will be chock full of as many movie screenings as I can possibly fit in. Caffeine consumption is up and sleep duration is down. It's time to see some movies!

Opening Day.
There isn't much to do on the first day of Sundance. The movies that open the festival don't start until the evening, so you're basically stuck waiting. So, I wasn't in that big of a rush to get to the festival. I should have rushed.

I hadn't seen one movie yet and my prepared schedule had already taken a catastrophic body blow. I love seeing public screenings because you get the Q&A session and you get to see the movie with a real audience. There's not much that's "real" when watching a movie with a bunch of press and industry people. Granted, the press members are much more wrapped up in the movie, but the industry people (people buying, selling, or representing movies) are a finicky bunch. They can't stay off their phones, they get up and leave halfway through the movie. It's tiresome watching movies with those people.

Which brings me back to my dilemma. For public screenings, press members have to request tickets. There are only so many tickets allotted for us during any one screening. I hurried into the press office when I finally got into the city and stared sullenly at the bad news. It was only 8:30 AM and all the tickets for the premiere for 'The Spectacular Now' had been taken. I was bummed. All that planning was quickly circling the drain. Not only that, but I found out that the premiere I was planning on seeing Saturday for Lynn Shelton's 'Touchy Feely' was also gone. This day was not turning out well at all.

I was gutted. Instead I picked up a ticket for the premiere of 'Don Jon's Addiction', and hoped for the best.
Best laid plans and all that, right? Still, it feels like this year they're making it harder to get into public screenings for whatever reason. Last year I was able to get into the premiere of 'Your Sister's Sister' on the same day I requested the tickets. I'm now planning on seeing the adaption of Tim Tharp's novel on Sunday. Hopefully it works out.

The opening night film I ended up seeing was a documentary called 'Who is Dayani Cristal?' The synopsis, which describes a mysterious body, with a cryptic tattoo being found in the desert, ended up having very little in the way of mystery. Instead the movie really is a comment on illegal immigration. While preachy at times, I found it to be a humanizing exercise. Putting faces, families, and feelings with statistics of undocumented workers.

After the movie is was off to a party for Nintendo's Wii U. There was the requisite open bar, tiny hor d'oeuvres, and music blasting-way-too-loud. It reminded me why I don't usually do the party scene at Sundance. The branding side of the festival doesn't really interest me. Although, seeing a S.H.I.E.L.D. vehicle made me think that something exciting was going on somewhere.
All I could think about when I got back home was that tomorrow held more promise. But, I had to be up early to request tickets or I'd be out of luck again.

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