Sadly, time at Sundance flies fast and I crammed as much as possible into the last 36 hours of my festival. Many of the stars fled to their Hollywood habitats by Monday and the glitz factor on Main Street returned to a semi-normal level. The A-list exodus lets the diehard cinephiles do more of what they came to do – watch movies.
And did I watch…starting the day with Spike Lee’s lengthy and overly religious Red Hook Summer, which majorly missed its mark and doesn’t really deserve another sentence. Me @the Zoo was up next and is the epitome of why I have a love affair with documentaries. Filmmakers Chris Moukarbel and Valerie Veatch tell the mesmerizing life tale of Chris Crocker, who gained overnight fame after declaring “Leave Britney Alone!” in his infamous YouTube video. Along the way, the history of viral video is told and its impact on society is learned. HBO Documentary Films acquired the film even before it hit the Sundance screens, so set your DVRs when it makes its premiere on the network later this year.
When Denver Film Society (DFS) programmer, Matthew Campbell, recommends a film, I listen. I ended my three-peat day with Kid-Thing, a bizarre fable told through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl. “Annie” has an affinity for breaking and stealing things – all for good reason. Without any friends her own age and a vacant father, the tomboy is left to her own devices and spends most of her days wandering the woods behind the goat ranch she calls home. The story turns after she stumbles upon an abandoned well with a woman’s voice calling for help from down below.
Short films precede many features at film festivals and before Kid-Thing, the audience was gifted with Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared. Produced by the London-based This Is It Collective, the short is ridiculous and its three minutes were among best I experienced at Sundance. Just watch and wonder: www.thisisitcollective.com
With two of my favorite DFS staffers in tow, our last night in Park City was spent party hopping until the wee hours, hitting a slew of events. Arriving just in time at the Grey Goose Blue Door lounge for the season six launch of Sundance Channel’s “Iconoclasts”, we caught a live Q&A with Paul Simon, who appeared alongside Lorne Michaels in season two. Simon was also in town to premiere his documentary Under African Skies, chronicling the making of his 1987 album “Graceland.” We made a return trip to the “Late Night Lounge Hosted by Sundance London” and called it a night after dancing to tunes from “DJ Mom Jeans” aka Danny Masterson of “That ’70s Show” at #ArtistServices‘ Social Cinema Party.
The highlight was our first stop at Zach Heckendorf’s private performance during the Universal Studios soiree at the beautiful eatery, Riverhorse on Main. The 18-year-old Denver native wowed the crowd with his original song “All The Right Places,” the first single from his debut album “The Cool Down.” The future looks bright for this young, indie-crooner as he sets out on his first national tour post-Sundance.
Before heading to the airport late Tuesday afternoon, I had two final films to see. Filly Brown stars 27-year-old newcomer Gina Rodriguez, who literally turned herself into a rap artist solely for the role. Already dubbed Sundance’s latest “It” girl, her alter ego “Filly Brown” is desperate for stardom in Los Angeles in order to pay the hefty legal bills necessary to get her mother out of prison.
I’m not the biggest fan of scary movies and was slightly weary to see Katie Aselton’s indie-thriller, Black Rock. Written and produced by Aselton’s husband Mark Duplass (Your Sister’s Sister), Black Rock, with its intense soundtrack appropriately and exclusively from The Kills, was a surprise addition to my list of festival favorites. Starring Aselton, Lake Bell, and Kate Bosworth, the three childhood friends head out for a camping trip to their old stomping grounds off the coast of Maine. Around dusk, they run into three veterans fresh out of the military who are also on the island of Black Rock for a hunting trip. After a boozy campfire and a hook-up gone wrong, the girls end up as targets. It’s all too believable, leaving me seriously contemplating if I will ever go camping again. Also purchased for distribution before its premiere, Black Rock is slated to hit theaters this summer.
So, that’s a wrap from Park City. If you’re feeling inspired to ‘fest after getting the Sundance scoop, there are plenty of options to get your fix right here in Colorado. Plus, hitting any of these festivals is perfect training for Sundance ‘13…we’ll see you there.
Boulder International Film Festival, February 16-19
Women + Film Voices Film Festival, March 6-11
Vail Film Festival, March 29-April 1
Aspen Shortsfest, April 10-15
Telluride Film Festival, August 31-September 3
Aspen Filmfest, October 1-7
Starz Denver Film Festival, November TBD
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.