Beer O'Clock at the Sundance Channel


There are myriad ways of judging whether a party is a success or not. How about these:

-It’s packed.

-Free Stella Artois (and then some).

-Robert Redford.

All three apply to the Sundance Channel’s 31 DAYS OF SUNDANCE party held yesterday afternoon at 350 Main. “This party has a long history,” said Laura Michalchyshyn, general manager of the Sundance Channel. “It’s been around since the inception of the festival and it’s one of the most popular parties because it’s attended by filmmakers. “Hey, filmmakers and free beer—you can’t beat that.”

I was excited to run into Evan Shapiro, the president of IFC TV and the Sundance Channel, so I could ask him something that had been nagging me for a while: When will his two channels start streaming movies online?

“Both websites have a tremendous amount of content online, most of it original to the website,” said Shapiro, but he added, “We, to date, don’t believe the television experience online is an optimal one.” I told him my (admittedly inexpert) belief that eventually TV programming will shift entirely to the internet, thereby killing cable TV. “I don’t agree it’s going to be web-based,” he replied, arguing instead that hi-def TV will be the main portal for content delivery.

As for this year’s films, Shapiro said, “I think the world wants to focus on the crisis, but suddenly I feel like the people and the artists are far more hopeful than they have been in the past.” He cited MARY & MAX, 500 DAYS OF SUMMER, ADVENTURELAND and I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS, continuing, “American filmmakers in particular are full of realistic optimism that I haven’t seen in a block of film like this, ever.”

Later on at the party, I ran into someone from last weekend who had blocked me out while I was videotaping Efren Ramirez (Pedro from NAPOLEAN DYNAMITE) dancing with some actress. That “someone” turned out to be Chris Barrett, a subject in the documentary THE CORPORATION, who met Ramirez back in 2004 (when both of their films screened at Sundance). And that actress turned out to be Laura Harring from MULHOLLAND DRIVE.

So what’s Barrett been up to since THE CORPORATION? He and Ramirez wrote a book together called Direct Your Own Life, and Barrett’s documentary AFTER SCHOOL, about teacher-student sex scandals, is in post-production.

And then we shook hands, which can mean all sorts of things at Sundance. In this instance, though, I think it meant “no hard feelings.”