Sundance 2013: An Industry-Free Filmmaker Gathering


Sundance Press and Filmmaker Party

[Editor's note: Please welcome Natalia Ciolko, who's writing about Sundance Film Festival coverage for Slackerwood while she's in Park City. If you've been looking for Chale's coverage, unfortunately he's been sick and never made it to Park City.]

What inspires people to spend their vacation days and a mess of money to trek out to Utah in the middle of January? It's not really about the films -- many of those will be out in a matter of months -- but the opportunity to meet the artists behind them.

In honor of that mission, the Sundance Film Festival hosted a reception Wednesday afternoon just for members of the press and filmmakers. No agents, no industry. Sundance Institute director Keri Putnam (@kputnam) and Director of Programming Trevor Groth (@trevorgroth) were also en scene, mingling with the talent and international journalists.

As welcome as the exclusive access was the fabulous buffet, a sight for sore eyes after a week of subsistence living on Clif Bars and white wine. Being an official Sundance event, there was plenty of the latter, too -- I certainly wouldn't wish this festival on a recovering alcoholic.

Spotted at the party:

  • Rob Goald, senior editor at Film Festival Today and a film studies instructor at UNLV. He said he hasn't missed a single Sundance since 1997. His top pick for the Fest was the abstract feature Upstream Color ("It's the future of filmmaking for the 21st century").
  • Xenia Grubstein, producer of Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer. The of-the-moment documentary described as "feminism on trial" just made a distribution deal for over a million dollars with HBO Films for U.S. TV rights.
  • Tinatin Gurchiani, director of The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear, bemoaned the difficulty of catching a flick with all of the sold-out screenings and her own duties as a filmmaker. Her movie is a contemporary look at post-Soviet life in her native country of Georgia.
  • Amsterdam native Sam de Jong, who directed the short film Magnesium, which previously won an award at the Nederlands Film Festival. It's about a gymnast who is unstoppable in her ambition, even if that means undergoing a DIY abortion. "It's about what how far any of us would go for success," said de Jong.
  • Karlyn Michelson, director of New Frontier category feature Charlie Victor Romeo, who described her film's technical aviation jargon like "an opera in another language."
  • Escape from Tomorrow star Roy Abramsohn, who said that despite a conflicting report from NPR, a judicial review of the unapproved filming in Disneyland may be settled as acceptable "fair use," to allow for the film's distribution. As of now, that's debatable.

[Photo credit: Quark Films producer Gavin Humphries with Fyzal Boulifa, director of The Curse, by Natalia Ciolko.]