February 15, 2014

Sundance 2014

(still never seen a film at this theater, but it's just too pretty not to walk by at least once)

My Sundance Film Festival 2014 trip was quite a fiasco and a bit of a long story...

I bought plane tickets to Salt Lake City way back in July of 2013.  They were super cheap and I immediately began getting excited about my third trip to the festival.  My brother works for the Sundance Institute and lives in SLC.  This is why, after years of dreaming about attending the festival, I have been able to go 3 times now.  He and I have been big movie nerds since birth basically.  

It doesn't disappoint.  Ever.  If you love movies and filmmakers, then you must try to go at least once.  Don't be discouraged by the crazy high prices of ticket packages and long lists of films.  To me, it's similar to a trip to Disney World, in that you can choose to make it as expensive and overwhelming as you want it to be.  The fact that I have been able to go 3 times now on a very limited budget should give you some encouragement.  It's possible on many different budgets.

Anyway, the fiasco came when we (my roommate and I were going together) were scammed out of our place to stay about 2 weeks before the festival began.  It was a big, old, ugly mess.  We lost hundreds of dollars and she ended up not being able to go after all.  I decided at the last minute that I was going to go anyway.  I finally decided "it's just money" (one of my mom's favorite sayings when things end up being more expensive but worth it) and I didn't want to lose the chance to go to the festival and spend a few days with my brother.  I changed my flight to come back earlier that I had planned (more money...cough...cough) and just went.  And I'm so glad I did.

(the brother got me fancy credentials this year)

I stayed at his house in Salt Lake City (for free) and he graciously let me use his car the entire time I was there (for free) and use his parking pass (for free).  Do you see a trend here?  My brother is awful sweet.  He had also bought me a bunch of tickets as Christmas presents so I only paid for one movie the entire time I was there.

It's not the way I had dreamed I would spend my time there.  There was a lot more driving.  Salt Lake is about 45 minutes from Park City where the festival is held.  But I got to go.  The movies were everywhere.  The snowy mountains were just as spectacular.

(on the highway headed back down to SLC)

There were celebrities every where.  Main Street was like a who's-who of TV and film stars on Saturday afternoon.  I must admit that I have way too much fun just walking up and down the sidewalks and inwardly freaking out as Elijah Wood and William H. Macy and Hurly from "Lost" walked right by me.

(quaint little Main St. jam packed on opening weekend.)

I got to see 2 fantastic movies.  One "okay" movie and one awful movie in the 3.5 days I was there.  That's like a perfect festival experience in a nutshell.  You have to see at least on awful one to truly appreciate the festival, in my opinion.

The awful one was highlighted only by the director during his introduction and Q&A at the end.  Oh and seeing Jesse Eisenberg, who is a shorty like me.  The director was hilarious.  I could have listened to him talk for an hour and a half instead.

The two good ones were Last Days in Vietnam and I, Origins.  Both equally fantastic for completely different reasons.  They are the kind of movies that make you love movies and stories and the art of film.

Last Days was a superbly, well done documentary that made me tear up about 15 times and Q&A that gave everyone in the theater (including Rob Reiner and Wayne Newton) goosebumps.  Highly recommend it.  One of the best doc's I've seen in years. It's about the last few days that Americans were in Vietnam after almost all of the soldiers had been pulled out.  So emotional.

I, Origins was on the must list for me and The Brother because the director had made one of our favorite festival films a few years ago, Another Earth.  I, Origins didn't disappoint.  Mike Cahill has such a lovely, distinctive voice in film with such fantastic, original sci-fi ideas.  And I've become a huge fan of Brit Marling.  She is mesmerizing to watch on screen. Oh, and Steven Yeun was in the film AND at the Q&A.  Since I'm a big Walking Dead fan, you can bet I was freaking out.  He was adorable, taking photos of the audience and just genuinely excited to be there and involved with this director that he really loved.

The "okay" movie was most likely ruined by my ridiculously high expectations.  I'm a big Zach Braff fan.  I Kickstarted this particular movie because I had such high hopes that it would turn out as fantastic as Garden State did (a personal all time favorite).  And while it was beyond exciting to see it and be in the same room/just a few feet away from Zach (and Donald!), the movie just wasn't that great.  There were great moments and the soundtrack will definitely go into my collection when it is released, but the movie was a little too long and jumbled for me.  Oh well.  The experience was worth it.  So fun to be involved from the beginning through Kickstarter and see all the behind the scenes videos and then be there for the big premiere.  That was super fun.

There are lots of other fun things like the beautiful town of Park City being all snow-covered, yet perfect temperatures for walking around outside.  The always entertaining (and free!) public transit bus system that is so much fun to use.  The time I saw Jerry from Parks and Rec across the street happily taking photos with people and being sweet and charming.  The new waitlist system that could be so frustrating because it was all done by the Sundance app this year.  The times I held my brothers laptop while standing in lines for movies, so he could work even though he was supposed to be "off".  The half-pipe events going on in Park City at the same time as the Festival creating a traffic nightmare on Saturday night.

It was a fun time, albeit quick.  I'm so glad that I decided just to go for it.  And thanks to my brother for hooking me up with all the freebies.

Here's a few more pics....

(the view from The Brother's Sundance condo)

(Sunrise at the bus stop.  8:30AM movies meant early wake-up calls to leave SLC in time to get to the movie line by 8AM)

(Zach Braff and cast at the Q&A.  You can see the back of Goldie Hawn's blond hair in the middle section near the isle.  She was there supporting Kate who was Zach's wife in the movie)

(arriving in Park City just as the sun came up and the moon said goodbye)

(a blurry Steven Yeun [because I was so excited] and the crazy/cool Mike Cahill talking to his cast)

(the best Sundance weather I've experienced.  cold and snowy and beautiful)

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