Sundance Spy: Day 1

303 Magazine headed even further west today and is live from Park City, Utah bringing you insider access from the Sundance Film Festival.  We’re rolling through town with the Denver Film Society (DFS) for the next five days and have a jam-packed schedule of film premieres, A-list events, and after-parties.  I know…it’s going to be a tough week at the office.

Aside from watching films and making the rounds on the party circuit, the DFS means business.  Director of the Starz Denver Film Festival, Britta Erickson, has hit Sundance every year since 2001 and considers it necessary to program any art house theater or true independent film festival.

“Sundance officially kicks-off each year with new voices, new themes, and new talent across the industry.  It really sets the tone and the direction independent film will take,” she says.

Throughout the festival, Erickson will see almost 20 films, many of which will end up on the program for the Starz Denver Film Festival in November and also what will screen at the Denver FilmCenter/Colfax year-round.

“You have to be here to discover the important films like Precious, Like Crazy, and Martha Marcy May Marlene, which all have premiered in Denver over the last few years.”

And for those who don’t know much about Sundance (beyond the paparazzi shots in the pages of Us Weekly), this snowy festival is the largest and arguably the most important film event in the United States.  Now in its 28th year, the Sundance Film Festival screens over 200 independent films – all with the hopes of getting seen post-‘fest by the masses.

The festival is officially underway and we’re headed straight for the action on Main Street.  Here’s the rundown of what’s on our agenda and check back with us through next week for the best of the ‘fest.  And in the meantime, you can be part of the action with “On-Demand: New Discoveries from the Sundance Film Festival” available for streaming on Hulu, Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, SundanceNow, and You Tube.

Films, Films, and More Films:

Navigating the screening schedule during a film festival, especially Sundance, is pretty daunting.  After some serious planning sessions, we have a solid lineup that includes some of this year’s most buzzed about films:  Celeste & Jesse Forever, co-written by Rashida Jones who stars alongside Andy Samberg; Bachelorette, starring Kirsten Dunst and Isla Fisher; Black Rock, from the mumblecore master Mark Duplass; Me at the Zoo, a documentary about Chris Crocker’s “Leave Britney Alone” YouTube fame; and Liberal Arts, marking Elizabeth Olsen’s return to Sundance.  Because here, it’s totally acceptable to see four movies in one day.

Celeb Sightings:

You can barely make your way up and down Main Street without literally bumping shoulders with A-list movie stars, industry bigwigs, and filmmakers.  Word on the (Main) street is that Emma Roberts, Zach Galifianakis, Parker Posey, Bruce Willis, Kate Bosworth, Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell, Will Forte, and Spike Lee are all on their way to town.

After-parties of all after-parties:

Stamina at Sundance is key and after a full day of films, festival pros party late into the night…every night.  We’re rested up and ready for the Kickstarter Party, Indie Moguls Party, VIBE Party, and Magnolia Pictures Tim & Eric’$ Billion Dollar Movie After-Party (which doesn’t even start until 1:30 a.m.!).

Live music:

We’re excited to show some hometown love for One Republic, who is taking the stage at the famed Harry O’s.  Recent Cherry Creek High School graduate and up-and-comer on the indie music scene, Zach Heckendorf is also performing live at the Universal Studios Party…not bad for a Sundance debut.  Drake is all over this festival with a private performance with live comedy by Aziz Ansari on Saturday for the very, very VIPs and an encore show for the rest of us with “friends” on Monday.

Big City Pop-ups:

And with the NYC and L.A. types that flock to Park City every January, their hotspots follow.  This year, if we’re lucky enough to get past the ironclad lists, we will make our way to Hyde Lounge, STK, Gansevoort, and the infamous TAO at The Lift.


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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