Getting Attention vs. Vying For It

Flying in to Salt Lake City, those snow-covered peaks are a majestic sight. The drive up to Park City is an easy jog on I-80. It’s sunny and clear and the madness is about to begin.

I’ve read and talked and talked and read. Which movies are likely to emerge from the pack? I’ve checked with the papers of record, the trades, the festival programmer, agents and studio executives. And you know what I’ve learned?

My friend Kenneth Turan, critic for the Los Angeles Times, mentions a few standouts on the menu, including AMREEKA, the story of a Palestinian woman who emigrates to the U.S. shortly after the American invasion of Iraq. And BIG FAN, about a follower of the New York Giants who has a chance encounter with his hero. It’s from Robert Siegel, who wrote THE WRESTLER.

I respect Kenny’s judgment; I believe him when he says these movies are very special. The only problem is that, to the best of my admittedly wobbly memory (you try leafing through this catalogue), no one else has mentioned either of them to me. They’ve mentioned entirely different lists of films. Now some of them may be thinking mostly about commercial prospects and some of them may have other agendas but wouldn’t you think one of there would be a bit more overlap? Apparently not, with 118 films in play—and those are just the features.

Clearly some films that no one has mentioned at all will be luminous or commercial or both.  I’ll tell you about the ones I see and the ones I probably should have seen. I’ll miss most of the great ones, in all likelihood. That’s the joy and sorrow of Sundance.

Sponge Bob
Sponge Bob Pendant

But let me return for a moment to the frivolous subject of swag. It seems there may be quite a lot of it vying for attention, to judge from my inbox. But I feel the need to share my favorite offering so far: A jewelry company is going to auction off a 12-carat total weight, diamond-encrusted Sponge Bob pendant–part of new high-end Sponge Bob collection created under the watchful eye of Russell Simmons. Scraping together the last few dollars to finish your film? Just trying to keep the wolf from the door in these dark days? Well, this is for charity, pal. Let the bidding begin.