Sundance 2014 Journal:
Ready for Sundance already before taking off with six assured tickets that I managed to buy online on February 14th despite the website failure and many system error messages, I feel light and ready to sleep only few hours a night in order to whole-heartedly enjoy the festival.
Arrived at Park city we had time for a little tour of the different theatres and the box-office. After a quick jump in the shower, at the stroke of midnight I was already waiting in line at the box-office.
I woke up, packed my covers and waited in line until 8 a.m when the box-office opened. Fifth in line, I managed to buy five tickets that day and to run to my first screening being Lilting at the MARC theatre. I watched a total of six films that day and didn’t have time to eat much nor sleep before 2:30 a.m the next morning. The films were in order: Lilting, Blue Ruin, White Shadow, Blind, The Double, and Short Program I.
I wake up early to go to the screening of Camp X-ray. I decided to try the festival E-waitlist for the rest of the day, but it ended up being a failure, for all the films turned out to be full in a couple of seconds. In the evening, I finally got into the waitlist for The Better Angels. Despite having the number 125, I was able to get in and the film was a pleasure of discovery. Its cinematography was particularly breathtaking.
After this unsuccessful E-waitlist day, I decided to wait in line for another night in front of the box-office. I went there around 2:45 a.m and was around 5th in line once again. We had to wait outside by 10 degrees Fahrenheit until 6:30 a.m when the building’s doors opened to let us wait in front of the box-office's main door.
During the waiting, I had a great and long conversation with another person who was waiting in line in front of me. We talked about our respective favorite films and film directors. I mentioned Antonioni, Fellini, Jacques Demy, François Truffaut and many more he didn’t know about, so we quickly shifted the discussion toward more contemporary directors. We then conversed about books, which film adaptations we liked or disliked. We discussed the current TV shows that had a great cinematography such as Breaking Bad or the BBC Sherlock and finished our talk on the evolutions of filmmakers who used to make masterpieces and have given in more commercial films with the years and consequently have lost some of their creativity and tarnished their reputation along the way.
After buying four additional tickets for the day, I rushed to the Egyptian theatre to see the first film of the day: The Badabook for which I was 11th on the E-waitlist. Having no cash in hand, I had to run up and down Main Street to only find one ATM, which was out of service! Luckily someone from my film intensive program was in line with me and landed me 15$. It was a great psychological horror story to wake me up and prepare me for a load of emotions on that day. I was very disappointed after the short documentary on Robert de Niro senior to which Q&A Robert de Niro junior assisted, yet very cold, distant and unwilling to answer half of the questions that were asked. The next screening, SEPIDEH: reaching for the stars cheered me up. The stars have always fascinated me and, as Sepideh, I’ve always fought to reach my dream profession, filmmaking. It is light-hearted that I came out of this documentary screening with new questions and aspirations. The next two films were great, especially the last one: Dead Snow; Red vs Dead, a Norwegian zombie apocalypse film which turned out to be very funny. In order that day, I’ve seen: The Badabook, Doc Shorts program II, SEPIDEH: Reaching for the stars, Locke and Dead Snow; Red vs Dead.
Having already two tickets bought online, I took my chances with the E-waitlist for the rest of the day and it worked perfectly. I went to see Boyhood, Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter, Mr leos caraX and the Signal. Boyhood fascinated me so much that the rest of the films after that seemed almost dull to me. I couldn’t get myself out of the universe Richard Linklater created for Boyhood. To see actors grow right before your eyes in a time lapse of 163 minutes has something mesmerizing. Later on, I had time to visit Main Street and the different boutiques souvenir. I bought two t-shirts and a sweater from the Sundance shop.
Waking up on the 21st knowing it was the last day, I couldn't hide a touch of sadness in my expression. I had great expectations for the movies I were to see that day, but only one really caught my attention: Cold in July. Before this screening I had seen White Bird in a Blizzard and Appropriate Behavior. The first one was a little off, even though Eva Green’s acting was remarkable. The second film was a well-written New-Yorker comedy directed by a graduate student at NYU as her thesis and I spent a great time seeing it, yet it lacked rhythm and the conflict seemed to go in one too many directions. When standing in the waitlist line for this film, someone came to me to give me a free ticket. Following this, I had a very interesting conversation with another ticket holder. He told me about the kindness of people giving free tickets away. I heard that he was going to a screening to which I wouldn’t be able to go, but for which I had a ticket, so I gave him my ticket and asked him to give it to someone in the E-waitlist line. He told me this incredible story of how two years ago he went to see the documentary Searching for Sugar Man and how he was the very last in line to enter. The positive side to it was that he got to sit right in front of the director giving his speech and on his right, a couple feet away, Sixto Rodriguez, after tuning his guitar, started to sing. He also told me that he was the first to come up to Rodriguez at the end of the projection, and had a long conversation holding hands with him and bounded over the fact that they both used to be constructor workers. When taking his hand apparently Rodriguez said: “we both know that no one is going to hurt anyone, we talk human to human, heart to heart.” The last film I’ve seen was actually a live streaming documentary with an orchestra playing and it talked about human beings reaching the boundaries of normality and shattering common beliefs. The film was named: The measure of all things. I felt that it was an appropriate film to end my Sundance festival experience.