Ah, Sundance. Feel its radiance on our humble state. For 11 days, we get to experience the glamour, the action, the lights, the stars.
You’ve never been? What are you waiting for? As a native who left Salt Lake City, I had no appreciation of its worth until I was gone. Now that I’m back, I plan on taking advantage of the hustle and bustle of “The Industry”.
Ostensibly it is a film festival but, if you don’t have tickets, you can only wait in line for possible no-shows. I suggest feeling out what else the event has to offer. Myriad bars, lounges and other events are open to the public. Depending on your schmooze-abilty, your access is, at best, limited. But, if you’re in the right place at the right time, you might even find yourself being invited to one of the many A-list parties.
Wardrobe is essential. We all live in Utah. We know how to dress for the weather but try to blend it one of two ways: “The New Yorker” (all black with fur worked in somewhere) or “The Californian” (the big puffy jacket and moon boots). Leave your heels and tennies at home. Jeans, tees and sweaters are red-carpet acceptable here. Add a bag that doesn’t make you look like a terrorist to hold digi-cam, hat, gloves and scarf (leave the sunglasses on). Every place should have an area to stash bags and coats.
We know them. We’ve seen them. But to walk into Harry O’s, smack dab in the middle of Main Street during this week and a half, is truly electric: A Hollywood celebrity next to a German tourist next to a ski bum next to a Bollywood mogul. Packed day and night, it’s hard to get a drink—if you can get in at all—but you’ll make new friends.
We find two different styles. One falls along the lines of the ultra-exclusive Delta Sky Lounge or People magazine’s Luxury Lounge. The best you can hope for is to stand across the street, stalker-style, and watch the door for Paris. The other type harnesses the queer and queer-friendly energy of the Queer Lounge. This year’s Queer Lounge offers a hospitality suite with Wi-Fi, panel discussions and professional mixers and film parties. I wouldn’t pass it off. Open to all, the Jan. 19 commencement party features The Donnas. Back on Main Street this year and, partnering with Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, it’s chic with couches, shaggy carpets and a bar sponsored by Absolut. On Monday, Jan. 21, at 4 p.m., I suggest catching HBO and World of Wonder’s panel on “When I Knew.” This is a collection of coming-out stories of 150 people, brought to you by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, the directors of such acclaimed films as Inside Deep Throat and The Eyes of Tammy Faye. You will gain an inside peek at a film’s story within itself, along with the panel’s guest actor Rex Lee (Entourage’s Wade, Ari’s assistant). The reception afterward just might feature an entourage of its own.
The Miramax party, Native Forum or perhaps Joan Jett’s impromptu birthday (could happen, as it did last year)? Well, you’ve truly made it. Don’t lose your cool. Keep interested and talk about the brilliant rainbow of culture you experienced that day. Don’t be creepy, and don’t ask for an autograph. After you and the fabulously famous ‘X’ are good friends, it’s perfectly acceptable to pose for a photo. There is a very confusing line when meeting someone you feel as though you know. Remember the age-old adage: “They’re people.”
Like you, they don’t want to talk about work at a party. Find something new about them to tell your friends and colleagues. That way, they will be truly impressed every time you tell them about your highly cultural and celebrity-filled time at Sundance Film Festival.