Sundance on the fly
January 20, 2016
The Sundance Film Festival, my own private Nirvana, once again looms over the local tundra. As usual, I’m a bit apprehensive concerning the magnitude of its encroachment upon our fair town and its inherent ability to irritate my friends once again to a degree worthy of the impending smirk just dying to spread across my face.
It’s not that my late January joy is completely dependent upon the level of psychological pain experienced by the Sundance haters of my tribe, but I do find it to be a most welcome variable. It certainly makes navigating my own logistical issues that much more in the be-here-now vein. Om is where the heart is.
Much of this year’s Festival excites me! The problems, if you could call them that, center on my cultural "jones" and its innate inability to schedule films, panels, music events, virtual reality trips, and open-bar gatherings with intervals sufficient to the space-times involved. How can Uber help if astral projection isn’t a given?
I did end up with tickets to some cool-sounding films, which in Jay-speak translates to "interesting-and-possibly-quirky." I’ve got that going for me. I do have one conundrum on opening day, however. That’s when I normally take in a non-Sundance film out at Redstone.
This year, I’ve got it narrowed down to two: "The Revenant" and the new "Star Wars." Although I figure the relative emotional experiences are polar opposites, I haven’t been able to make a call.
Being a "Mountain Man" buff, I’m well aware of Hugh Glass and his epic trek out west and Director Alejandro Inarritu certainly turns my crank. But "The Force," which has ignored me for years, is also tugging.
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There are a few films on my "must-see" list that will require waiting lines. No biggie, there. It’s pretty much the same every year. Even though the relatively recent waiting-list cell-phone app cracks me up, I’ve only been turned away once.
That was for "Magic Trip," the Ken Kesey documentary about his Merry Pranksters and their highly-improvisational 1964 cross-country journey aboard "Furthur," their exotically painted 1939 International Harvester school bus. No worries, I was able to take that trip later, so to speak.
I’m only set up for one day out at Sundance Resort this year. That’s not good. With my normally adequate "fix" of three days and five or six films in their intimate Screening Room, not to mention the additional top-shelf grub and libations I’ll be leaving on the table at the legendary Owl Bar, this situation, to put it mildly, needs work!
And, if that weren’t enough to bruise my comfort zone, I later discovered that the one day I would be spending up the idyllic North Fork drainage wallowing in the natural beauty of the Timpanogos foothills, I would be missing what is quite possibly THE event, at least in my book, of the festival. That’s right! While I was looking the other way, karma stepped right up and bitch-slapped me.
That would be what the Film Guide calls a "multidimensional evening designed to celebrate (the) much-anticipated episodic work" American Epic, "a four-part series that takes us on a journey across time to the birth of modern music." Oh, is that all?
Did I forget to mention that besides "clips from the film" which "include astonishing archival footage, rare historic recordings, and contributions from some of today’s great artists," that "Robert Redford, T Bone Burnett, and Jack White" will be carrying on "an extended onstage conversation" with the creators of the project?
Is that enough? OK, how about "a third component of live performances filling out this lineup, featuring the Avett Brothers and other special music guests." Sorry, that’s all I can give you: Redford, T Bone, Jack White, the Avett Brothers, and special guests onstage in multi-dimensions. What, no Large Hadron Collider?
Whaddaya Think? Worth juggling whatever else you might have on your busy schedule? Give me a break! I can hear those same members of my tribe I threw under the bus earlier in this column sending a collective "guffaw" my way. What goes around !
Oh, well — word is that Carla Juri will be in town. Maybe I’ll bump into her in the produce section. "American Epic" isn’t the only thing multi-dimensional at this year’s Festival. And don’t forget all the virtual reality at "New Frontier" this year. These folks are pushing the envelope. Turn out the lights! Roll film!
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for more than 40 years.