13 Ways Of Looking At Sundance
Front Door of BlackHouse
While everyone talks about the Sundance Film Festival, anyone who has been here quickly realizes that there are many festivals, or, at least, many ways of looking at it. There are the caffeinated digital artists hanging out at the New Frontiers on Main [festival.sundance.org], the black-suited executives dining at Chimayo, the star-struck locals waiting in the cold to score tickets by the Eccles Theater, the documentary filmmakers filling up a rustic lodge hall for a panel on public funding. There is the Queer Lounge, the BlackHouse [www.theblackhouse.org], the Native Forum, and the Film Church.
Likewise there are a variety of ways to see the festival. Just as Wallace Stevens found “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird [www.writing.upenn.edu],” here are 13 perspectives on the festival.
1. THE OFFICIAL: The Sundance Institute [www.sundance.org] of which the festival is only one side of its rubric’s cube, provides year-round support to independent filmmakers and artists.
2. THE BUSINESS: Variety [www.variety.com] and the Hollywood Reporter [www.hollywoodreporter.com] offer ongoing coverage of who’s paying what to who (and whether it was worth it). Screen International is another great business source, but it’s not free for us poor folk.
3. THE INSIDER: Indiewire [www.indiewire.com] remains the most consistent presence covering the festival. In fact, because Indiewire’s editor Eugene Hernandez is seen at so many places all the time, authorities are looking into whether the web-zine is not dabbling in cloning. Filmmaker Magazine [www.filmmakermagazine.com] –– in full disclosure I am the Senior Editor –– provides seasoned, in-depth coverage of the films and filmmakers.
4. THE PERSONAL: There are many blogs and articles that recount what the festival means to people personally, whether they are a filmmaker, audience member or waiter in a local cafe. Read, for example, Aly Adair’s account “My Perspective as a Volunteer and Non-Filmmaker” [www.associatedcontent.com].
5. THE HIP: MTV, which has actually bought several films from the festival, is covering the 10 days in Utah with its usual high-energy groove, with articles like “Sundance ’08: Kirsten Dunst, Ellen Page, Mischa Barton Flicks Have Us Amped” [www.mtv.com].
6. THE LOCALS: Yes, that’s right, Sundance isn’t just for folks from NYC or LA. There is also the SLC contingent. The Salt Lake City Tribune [www.sltrib.com] and Park Record [www.parkrecord.com] have extensive, local coverage of what happens when the circus comes to town.
7. THE SERIOUS: POV [www.pbs.org], public television’s long-running documentary program, lists what makes Sundance so important for non-fiction filmmakers.
8. THE DARK ONES: Horror fan boys will not be left out in the cold at the festival. Sites, like The Horror Section [thehorrorsection.blogspot.com] and Bloody-Disgusting’s [www.bloody-disgusting.com] special Sundance section, keep an eye on what’s bloody, gnarly, maimed or just plain disgusting this year.
9. THE GOSSIPS: Industry dishers, like Defamer [www.defamer.com] and like e-online’s Planet Gossip [www.eonline.com], keep tabs on celebrities, movie stars, models and most importantly, Paris Hilton at Park City. Defamer also provides their own cinematic prognostication with Your 2008 Sundance Festival Buzz-Movie Cheat Sheet [defamer.com].
10. THE MUSICIANS: More and more, the festival is about music as much as movies, although this year quite a few films are about music. Some bands are playing private parties, some are on the street and some are part of the ASCAP Music Cafe. Keeping tabs on all of this are ASCAP [www.ascap.com] and BMI [www.bmi.com], with a special Sundance Diary [www.bmi.com].
11. THE HOMOSEXUALS: Since launching what B. Ruby Rich called the “the New Queer Cinema” in the early 90s, Sundance has been an oasis for the GLBTQ community. Queer Lounge [www.queerlounge.org] has been a meeting space – both on line and on the street – for the last few years. And Planet Out [www.planetout.com] provides a rooster of films of queer interest.
12. THE BLOGGERS: By now the cinematic blogosphere is a universe unto itself, with internal squabbles, affiliations, gossip and news. The best of all blogs remains David Hudson’s GreenCineDaily [daily.greencine.com]. Other good, sometimes wildly opinionated blogs to follow are Cinematical [sundance.cinematical.com], Jeffrey Welles’ Hollywood Elsewhere [hollywood-elsewhere.com], The Reeler [www.thereeler.com], and Matt Dentler’s Blog [blogs.indiewire.com].
13. US: Sundance Channel [www.sundance.tv] – I know, I know, it’s odd to beat the drum when you are already on the site — has the most extensive coverage in a number of different places. Look around. But they are not the only one with great coverage, this blog is actually a joint venture between Sundance Channel and FilmInFocus [www.filminfocus.com] , Focus Features new Movie Lovers site. We’ll be covering the festival on our Editors Blog [www.filminfocus.com]there.