What causes 50,000 movers, shakers and professional party hoppers to briefly descend on the tiny town of Park City, Utah (Pop 7,000) for just over a week every year? The greatest 10 day long party, artistic, cultural and networking event in the United States: The Sundance Film Festival! Celebrities stroll the snow covered streets in knit caps and scarves looking more like the kids from âSouth Parkâ then tinsel-town royalty. Lavish parties, screenings, schmoozing and deal-making abound in whatâs been called a winter version of mardi-gras, spring break and summer camp for the entertainment industry all rolled into one.
Here is Aaron’s ordered summary of the festivities:
Top 11 Observations, Rumors & Revelations about the Sundance Film Festival:
11. Long underwear: your new best friend
Park City is fearsomely cold. Itâs a coldness that freezes the very air around you and bites every bit of exposed flesh. Wear gloves, hats and scarves, but most importantlyâ¦ get comfy with long underwear.
10. In Utah, otherwise normal people will act like sycophantic peons in the presence of celebrities
At a party Woody Harrelson attended, frantic organizers scurried around with trays, nervously barking into their headsets: âRaw Foods! Raw Foods Coming Through! Raw Foods for Woody!” They ran as if they were frightened natives and Woody was a deity who might cover their village in molten lava if they took too long to appease him.
9. The events: partying is such sweet sorrow
Itâs true. The parties at Sundance are legendary. There are between 10-20 major and minor parties every single day. You can start at 10 am and party until 10am the next day. You can rub elbows (and even other body parts) with celebrities. But after a while, you become exhausted and actually start dreaming of returning to work as an antidote to the disease of post-party(um) depression.
8. The films: if youâre patient, youâll get to see them at home
Yes, there are scores of independent films shown at Sundance. Most of them are screened for industry companies to purchase and as part of the Sundance competition. Once in a while youâll have a breakout success like âNapoleon Dynamiteâ or âLittle Miss Sunshine.” But if you wait two months, youâll be able to see them in L.A. theaters and on DVD.
7. Dating: all dressed up and nowhere to go (for privacy)
Of the 50,000 plus men and women attending Sundance, the vast majority are single 20 & 30 some-things: romance and flirtation crackle deliciously in the air. However, before you begin to think of this as âhook-up heaven,â know this: there is no privacy. Itâs not unusual to have 8 people crashing in a two bedroom condo. So, unless youâre an exhibitionist, get their email and defer the serious dating until youâre home.
6. U2 are going to play a concert on a rooftop!
They didnât. They did however, attend the Festival to promote their new movie, “U2 3D.”
5. The gifting suites: not that sweet
Itâs true. When youâre a wealthy celebrity and can finally afford anything, companies will give you everything for free. Gifting suites are little rooms and storefronts where companies will hand out free clothing, electronics and cosmetics to celebrities. Sundance was full of them. However, do you really need to schlep a bottle of facial toner, an Eddie Bauer hoodie and an ipod holder back home with you on the plane?
4. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young will be giving a concert in a small bar
This actually did happen. CSNY rocked the house for 150 lucky fans in a local bar in promotion of their new concert film, “DÃ©jÃ vu!”
3. Altitude sickness: itâs real
Q: Whatâs green, throbbing and queasy and wants to ruin your vacation?
A: Your head when you get altitude sickness! Nota bene: Los Angeles is at sea level, Park City is 7,000 feet above sea level. The good news is you can avoid it by drinking lots of water and you generally get over it in one day.
2. Oh, that Bill Maher
In chasing down an interview, I sought out Jewish comedian and political pundit Bill Maher, whom I believed was premiering his motion picture directorial debut âSleepwalkingâ at Sundance. Turned out, it was a different Bill Maher! Hey, who knew there were two?!
1. The number one most overheard phrase at Sundance 2008:
âI think I just saw Paris Hiltonâ¦â
Los Angeles producer J. Todd Harris greets The Jewish Journal during an after-party. Harris’ film, “Bottle Shock,” stars Alan Rickman and Bill Pullman.