FRIDAY 4:17 PM Three Films, Three Winners.
Tweet at 1:20PM from Inside the Holiday Cinemas: Just wept through “Alive Inside” with 300 strangers @sundancefest. #joyfulsundancecry.
“The Sundance Cry” usually occurs late in the fest when you’re exhausted. But scenes of Alzheimer’s patients coming back to life simply because someone played some music for them in “Alive Inside” caused an early flood of tears, though I’m uncertain what I was crying about – sadness that we shut away the elderly and leave them in this deplorable state, or happiness at seeing them filled with the passion of being alive.
Waiting in line for my next movie, I had a great conversation about “Alive Inside” with the person in front of me. But I was reminded of an important Sundance rule: Know from whence a person is coming before talking film. While I think it’s generally rude to ask someone what they do, if you don’t know what they’re doing here, you might find yourselves talking past each other. KCRW’s Kim Masters (@kimmasters) told me last night that a couple of guys told her “there’s no good films at Sundance this year.” It turns out they were acquisition types, so what they meant is “there’s nothing to buy here that will make any money.” Nothing wrong with that, but those are two very different ideas. So, it’s worth at least a peek at someone’s badge: Are they an exec? Press? A filmmaker? Someone who just loves movies? That will help avoid confusion.
The movie we were waiting for was “Ida,” by Polish director Paweł Pawlikowski (“My Summer of Love”). It’s the story of a orphaned, nun novitiate in search for what happened to her long-dead parents during World War II. Black and white, shot in 4:3 (almost square) aspect ratio, it’s a beautifully bleak and ultimately riveting tale of identity lost, found and then chosen.
FRIDAY 10:24AM First Filmic Foray
“Locke.” First film was a home run. One man in a car dealing with ten different calamities on his cell phone. Riveting, exciting, painful to watch. My only beef was with the audience; the film ends an a remarkably emotional note, but a lot of people were already out the door. Imagine wading through an entire symphony to finally hear the cymbals crash, and then walking out before they’ve had a moment to reverberate. Those folks robbed themselves. Onwards!
FRIDAY 9AM And So It Begins.
First, there is finding your way. Even if you’re a vet, navigating the venues and shuttles can be a bit much. But there are helpful volunteers and helpful (if gruff) shuttle drivers. And taxis if you want. But the “buzz starts on the bus” (I don’t know why I put that in quotes) at Sundance; listening in to conversations about what people are excited about seeing and what they’ve seen is an invaluable to maximizing your time here.
This is is the first iPhone Sundance for me. The phone, the GPS and Twitter are a game changer – the whole things just easier and more fun. But I find myself watching the battery level like a diver watching his air tank meter.
You would think that “press” would mean something here. I’m actually kind of happy to report that in fact filmmakers and filmgoers seem to take precedence. The majority of press screenings take place on the Holliday Village Cinemas, and the press is forced to line up in a tent with metal barricades. Think Disneyland meets the slaughterhouse. I keep looking around for Temple Grandin.
But all this is commentary. It’s really all about the movies. And I’m about to see my first film of my fest. Exciting!!