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Arts and Entertainment

LAist at Sundance: Packed!

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Photo courtesy of Alik Keplicz/AP

Saturday is invariably both the best and worst day of the entire festival. It's the best in the sense that there is no shortage of high-profile movies, events and parties to attend. It's the worst in the sense that everyone--and I include the entire under-25 population of Salt Lake City--knows this. Saturday simply has the most intense crowds of the entire festival. It's the perfect day to avoid Main Street and hole up in press screenings. This is what I had planned to do, but fate decided otherwise. That, however, is a story for later in this column.

Saturday morning kicked off with an 8:30 screening of Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired. It debuted Friday night to an intense bidding war that was eventually settled when The Weinstein Company bought the international rights and HBO picked up the domestic. The film itself is a largely sympathetic portrait of Polanksi's conviction of unlawful intercourse with a minor and subsequent, continuing exile to Europe. Director Marina Zenovich had unprecedented access to many of the players involved in the scandal and what emerges from the long-gestating doc is a belief that Polanski may have been wrongly convicted.

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Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company

I headed down to Main Street after that to meet up with some friends and check out the gift lounge scene. The first place we hit was the Wall Street Journal lounge at the top of Main. It was pretty low-key. The gift bags were under lock and seal so all they were giving out were food, drinks and notebooks. Across the way, though, was a lounge that Robert Redford would have truly despised. Redford has been railing for years about the commercialization of the festival. This particular lounge seemed to have no interest in it whatsoever. All they cared about was giving away watches, sweaters, sneakers and bags. I can't be sure, but I think everyone inside was European judging by the thick accents that filled the air. I stayed just long enough to snag a free drink.

George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead screened at 4 o'clock. While looking through the official Sundance guide, I must say this film stuck out as a bit of an odd choice. Frankly, had it not been a Romero film I doubt it would have made the cut. It's, of course, another zombie movie but this time with a meta twist: a group of film students encounter real-life zombies while filming a horror movie of their own. As for the film, I'll just say that Romero fans will probably enjoy it. In a world where 28 Weeks Later exists, Diary of the Dead just felt a little dated to me. It is good to see an old saw like Romero still working, though.

We now come to the point where I became waylaid by what I'm sure was something I ate at the Chinese buffet near the Yarrow. My lunch there seemed normal enough--fried rice and sweet and sour pork--but as the day progressed, I regressed. By six o'clock I knew I was done for the day. While all my condo-mates scattered across Park City to drink and party, I huddled under the covers of my bed, shivered a little and fell asleep for fourteen hours. As I write this story on Sunday morning, though, I feel completely fine and am looking forward to a long day of screenings and fun. Check back tomorrow for more news.