Another year, another Sundance Film Festival in the bag. IHEARTCOMIX’s annual trek to the festival took place this past month and as per usual, we had ourselves a good time, but also felt the brunt of the world changing around us.
Sundance in 2017 felt different than in years past. There was a new sense of political urgency and with everything happening in the world and the inauguration of Trump occurring in the midst of it, you couldn’t help but feel the changed energy. Whether the films that were showing, the conversations being had or the noticeable lack of specific segments of people it all felt a little odd. Combine this with the unprecedented torrential snowfall and Al Gore shouting about climate change all weekend and the week felt a lot more urgent than normal.
However, despite this general feeling permeating the vibe, we managed to keep busy and meet a lot of Canadians. This year we only did one thing on-site, the event for Flying Lotus‘ new feature, KUSO, as well as the Brainfeeder Films shorts screenings earlier in the day. Needless to say, this consumed the first part of our trip.
We flew in Wed morn. We kicked the day off right by being slightly late to the airport. Because I had a bag to check I missed my flight. Classic. Once in Park City we hit up our fave restaurant, High West, for some food, drinks and team hangs.
Thursday was a pivotal day for us. After a day of prep we hit the streets heading out to our first events, an Indie Wire house party, the YouTube space and eventually the Future Party’s mansion. At Indie Wire I fed a girl chili for the first time in her life and Jasmine made friends with an older Chinese lady who starred in a short film at the fest and resides on the Oscar board. Throughout the night we made friends with a gaggle of attendees from Toronto and NYC, all of which would go on to become our festival posse for the week in both good and bad ways.
Despite the hangover, Jasmine and I managed to wake up in time to make the first film of the trip, An Inconvenient Sequel, the second installment of the climate crisis doc by Al Gore. We watched this movie that brought a chill of ominous tone and urgent feelings on the morning of Jan 20 as Trump was being inaugurated into office. This was also featured in the movie and when Al Gore himself came out after the film to address this directly it was a wild feeling to be both experiencing and living the changing of the world at the same time.
Later that night was the aforementioned KUSO and Brainfeeder Films events. Despite the massive demand and shit show to get in, this night went off without a hitch. I wont dwell too much on the details since we have a whole other post about this, but our buds from the night before showed up solidifying 2017’s #1 Sundance Party Posse, which extended into the after hours house party debauchery after the event. The highlight tho? Mother fuckin’ Kenny Loggins!!
The energy was still over the top going into the wee hours of Saturday morning, but eventually we pulled ourselves off an empty dance floor at a house party curated by a couple ladies doing their best Vegas bottle service impression in order to wake up at 8am and attend the Park City Women’s March. There was a lot of excitement around the festival leading up to this event, but we really had no idea how much until we arrived after walking almost a mile in the snow. We rounded the corner and looked up Main Street in astonishment… the whole freakin road was full!
We joined the march and followed it up to the main stage where speakers like Chelsea Handler spoke and spread the gospel. It was heartening to look online and see that this same movement was being magnified by the thousands across the country. It was cold as hell outside and there was a lot of cool Sundance stuff happening, but so many people gave that up in support and it was really inspiring to see. Most years it’s about how many movies you can see or what parties you can get into, but like I said, this was different. In some ways this felt like an early climax to the festival that ended up being buried in snow for the rest of the days (at least the ones I was there). I can feel good in saying I had the weirdest protest sign refashioned from the previous night’s KUSO props.
After the protest I began my daily tradition of missing the movies I had tickets for. Honestly the snow and the sheer amount of people in the street Saturday made it tough to think about anything else beside food, coffee and warmth, which we did all three immediately after before ending up in the iTunes lounge and starring at John Hamm for about 20 minutes. The night was packed with party opportunities so we made the decision to stick with that beginning with a swell meal and NOBU and ending the night at another mansion somewhere deep in the snowy hills of Park City. Somewhere in the middle there was my favorite party, a full on 80’s themed dance off by JASH. I didn’t get any photos, but I stole a wig.
Sunday was the final day the full team was together. My day started with Morgan (Jacob’s wife) and I going to see the new Daniel Clowes movie, Wilson. It was a hilarious film about a miserable man who somehow finds some meaning in his life. Starring Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern, this film is already on it’s way to theaters and worth seeing.
After the movie Morgan and I rushed over to the Funny or Die BBQ to meet up with the rest of the crew. Everyone was really excited because they’d gotten to hangout with Kyle Mooney. I was just excited they had food, cuz I was HUNGRY. We rode this one out to the end.
Once we finally split the team broke up for a few hours to go check out some individual stuff. Some went shopping, some dove into VR, I went to go see Dan Harmon drunkenly speak about wring at the YouTube space. One of the benefits of being at Sundance isn’t just all the cool talks and lessons to be learned, it’s that most of these are told and consumed wasted, giving it a whole other level of entertainment. We met back up over dinner and ended our final night in town at the party for Lemon, Brett Gelman‘s new film. By the time that party was over, my IHC crew was gone, but I met up with whole other host of friends and ended up dancing at a house party until around 5am.
The next morning (Monday) we woke up to unbelievable snow! I mean, it was the most insane shit I’d ever seen. There was a rush to leave since everyone except me had to be at the airport and we were checking out of our Air BNB. The crew attempted to give me a ride to my new place, but traffic was so bad it was impossible. I was dropped off midway and had to fend for myself. I bid them farewell and finally found a way to my new room for my remaining days, a snow covered house right off of Main St.
I dropped my bags off and ran out to meet up with my buddies Sheila Vand, an actress who I befriended at an earlier Sundance and Danny Gabai, an old friend who now help oversee Vice Films. We met up for breakfast and instantly I was transported into a whole new Sundance world. The majority of the hoopla of the festival ends after the first weekend and things calm down. For the most part you are left with filmmakers and dedicated movie watchers and new way of thinking emerges almost immediately. It’s nice and a little more adult. After breakfast Sheila and I headed over to New Frontier and was finally able to see some VR ourselves and meet up with some Canadians.
Next my new Canadian friend, Michelle, and I went and saw my third film of the festival, Beach Rats. It was an intense tale of a Jersey boy wrestling with his sexuality and making some major mistakes on that journey as he wrestled with who he wanted to be versus what his life expected of him. It was at times a hard movie to watch, but beautifully made. The night, of course, went on to include some fun including a performance from St Vincent…
My time at Sundance and my stamina for partying was wearing thin, however there was plenty of night left. Following the performance was a house party for the film Brigsby Bear. After that, another house party from the folks at Vimeo. Friends galore were popping up as I was meeting with some and losing others, but the night ended as the day began with Sheila. Once the party ended we walked with a small group through the snowy night eating as much fresh fall as we could until eventually our exhaustion consumed us.
Tuesday was my final day at the festival. I did’t have a lot left in me, but I did get to see one last film, which I took my new friend Lindsay, another Canadian! We went to see Band Aid, a movie about a fighting married couple who start a band to work out their problems. It was joyous, cathartic and fun and Fred Armisen did a great job as the creepy neighbor turned drummer, but it was also a very Silverlake film, as Lindsay called it ‘typical Sundance fare’. True, but I liked it!
This day turned into essentially my recovery day with not much else happening except a big farewell dinner where somehow all different groups of friends gathered together for burgers and too much fried food. It was a bittersweet end to what ended up feeling like a more personal and polarizing trip overall. Sundance 2017 felt like as much a vacation as a work trip, but it also kicked off the plague that affects us still, this new administration. As politics consume our lives, I’m happy with the new friends I made. Hey, if things get real bad maybe I marry one of the Canadians? Till next year…