Sundance Institute President and Founder Robert Redford (img: Jemal Countess / Getty Images)

Please forgive my mid-festival hiatus…the Sundance shenanigans are nonstop.  I’m back in blogging action and day four in Park City was just my type of “Sunday Funday.”

After mingling with industry types and patrons the night before at the official “Late Night Lounge Hosted by Sundance London,” I missed the early morning premiere of Madrid, 1987…oops.   It sounds familiar to you fans of the Starz Denver Film Festival, right?  You might remember some wild times from this past November at the after-party that goes until 4:00 a.m. – or actually, maybe not.  Held in a cozy lodge converted warehouse, Sundance’s version comes in second compared to Denver’s infamous “Late Night Lounge,” with most nights only including two drink tickets and the staff turning the lights on at 1:00 a.m.

Robert Redford, the legendary actor who founded Sundance Institute over 30 years ago, made a brief appearance to introduce his latest brainchild.  For the first time in its history, Sundance is going international for a four-day arts festival that will include film screenings, live music performances, and discussions – all highlighting American filmmakers and musicians.  Sundance London will converge at one of the world’s biggest venues, The O2 in London from April 26th – 29th, 2012.

Speaking at a press conference held in March, Redford said, “We are excited to partner with AEG Europe to bring a particular slice of American culture to life in the inspired setting of The O2, and in this city of such rich cultural history.” Redford continued, “It is our mutual goal to bring to the UK, the very best in current American independent cinema, to introduce the artists responsible for it, and in essence help build a picture of our country that is broadly reflective of the diversity of voices not always seen in our cultural exports.”

But before Sundance lands across the pond, they still have an entire week to go with this festival.

Films of Day Four:

After catching a few extra and necessary hours of sleep, I fueled up at Main Street Pizza & Noodle – a must stop where deals are done and celebs are spotted (none to report of this particular morning…or my eyes just weren’t in full focus yet).   Happily full with the first complete meal I’ve had in a few days, I headed out for back-to-back screenings.

Pursuit of Loneliness

This film was a nice change of pace from the familiar mumblecore dramadies (Your Sister’s Sister and Celeste and Jesse Forever) I’ve seen over the last few days.  Director and writer, Laurence Thrush, goes for aesthetics using beautiful black-and-white, fixed-frame shots throughout.  The cast is made up entirely of nonprofessional actors in authentic Los Angeles locations, making it hard to believe that it’s not a documentary.  Following the bureaucratic process after the death of an elderly patient with no next of kin and a man with Alzheimer’s discharge from the hospital, Pursuit of Loneliness makes feeling raw emotion and realizing your own fears of aging unavoidable.

Liberal Arts

In one of my favorite films of the festival (more on that later), Josh Radnor wore three hats in his return to Sundance (happythankyoumoreplease won the 2010 dramatic Audience Award and also played at the 34th Starz Denver Film Festival).  As writer and director, Radnor also plays the 35-year-old Jesse Fisher, who visits his beloved Kenyon College (and real-life alma mater) for his favorite professor’s (Richard Jenkins) retirement dinner.  He meets Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), a wise beyond her years sophomore and their connection is instant.   Allison Janney, as his sarcastic and cynical former British romantic literature professor and Zac Efron, as the resident campus hippie, round out the cast.  The dialogue throughout the film is hilarious, poignant, and provoking – in multiple scenes, I was tempted to sneak out my iPhone and write down quotes.  After the entire cast received a standing ovation from the packed house at the Eccles Theater, Liberal Arts‘ theatrical debut is not far behind.

Since most of us spent the daylight hours in and out of movie theaters, the Denver Film Society crew caught up over dinner at the trendy Silver restaurant and were actually back at “HQ” on the earlier side.  Catch up on the action from Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 and stay tuned for Day 5.  For more photos: “Scene at Sundance Film Festival 2012” via The Hollywood Reporter.

 

Katie Shapiro is one of Denver’s resident gals about town. A “Jill” of all trades, she is a freelance writer, blogger, and PR guru. She likes skiing, drinking Manhattans, scarves, recycling, to-do lists, Gittel, and putting pins in the map. Check back often for the latest in travel, music, fashion, culture, and happenings.

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