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Arts and Entertainment

LAist at Sundance: The Big Wrap-up

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Photo courtesy of jpchan via flickr

For me, the Sundance Film Festival officially ended at the airport in Salt Lake City when I was waiting in line behind Bijou Phillips at the Quizno's in Terminal 1. She was politely arguing with the counter guy about why she couldn't get fresh mustard from behind the counter instead of having to use the the mustard packets by the napkin stand. In a heavy accent, he kept saying that all they had was "runny mustard" and she kept asking, "What is runny mustard?" before finally realizing he was saying "honey mustard" and asking him to give her some. Somehow, that moment perfectly captured the surreality of Sundance.

For 355 days a year, Park City is a quietly wealthy little ski town. Its Main Street is lined with good restaurants and pricey shops. Its surrounding mountains are dotted with huge, splendid homes. Then, for 10 days a year, it's a madhouse. 45,000 people cram into a town that can barely accommodate them; lines spill out of every storefront; people wait for hours in single-degree temperatures for movies they wouldn't otherwise drive across town to see; celebrities are lavished with gifts they don't need; and, of course, about 200 movies unspool in theaters, hotels, librariesand racquet clubs--many for the first time. Everyone should go at least once.

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Photo courtesy of tkellyphoto at flickr

The memories I bring back from this year are many: my favorite film of the festival, Stacy Peralta's revelatory documentary Made in America; Be Kind Rewind--a movie I expected not to like, but like more every time I think about it; Elsa Pataky's luminous performance and Enrique Murciano's star-making turn in Mancora (if only the lead, Jason Day, were nearly as good); the 8-foot tall animated, flying android version of Osama Bin Laden in Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?; how good it felt to leave the screening of the morbidly depressing Downloading Nancy; accidentally selling my ticket for Mysteries of Pittsburgh, then having to beg an elderly gentleman to give it back; the odd fish-eye effect of watching Savage Grace from the first row of a tiny theater--my neck was craned at least 60 degrees and every actor appeared to have giant, beefy legs; the air conditioner abruptly turning on full-blast at the screening of Pretty Bird and completely freezing the theater; the great Asian beef appetizers at the Ray-Ban Visionary Award party at Harry O--I over-served myself with them; watching a publicist for a Timberland booth fawn over Eric Balfour because he's (barely) a celebrity; the huge, free lunches at the T-Mobile Cafe and the complimentary sledding outside; the party we went to--I forget the location due to alcohol usage--where they were giving chair massages at the two in the morning; walking down from Deer Valley just as the blackout occurred and walking along Main Street in total darkness; the French bouncer who wouldn't let us into Hyde--check that, the French bouncer who wouldn't even let us talk near the entrance to Hyde; and, lastly, getting food poisoning at the China Panda cafe and ruining my Saturday night--the best night of the festival!! Quick thanks to Maren Hintz for re-opening the press office for me after I arrived late and getting my press pass for me. Apologies to Annie Jeeves and Jill Feldman for not being able to coordinate coverage for your films (Fix and Frost, respectively--I will review them, ladies!). Big thanks to Erin Burke for being the best, most trustworthy publicist in Park City (she actually delivered on her promises). Finally, thanks to my cool condo-mates (Jen, Nicole, Danielle, Julian, Kevin, Mary, Burton, Cari, Cassandra and Scott) for a great and crazy week at Sundance. See you next year!