Sundance ’12: Highlights from DAY FOUR

Sundance's Kim Yutani introduces queer filmmakers at Outfest's Queer Brunch

By Chris J. Russo (doddleNEWS)

There are many reasons why people descend on Park City. They come to celebrate and support a film they have in the festival, distributors look for films to buy, sponsors attend to  promote their services to the indie market, and some people even come to to watch films. But one of the main reasons people come each year is to simply network with other industry professionals and stay in the game. Somedays are packed with films, and some days are packed with parties, and a better person can navigate both. Today was a marathon day of socializing — a total of 5 parties — that had me up and down Main Street, Park Ave and Deer Valley, with one film screening squeezed in. Connecting with the people that make films was what my epic DAY FOUR was all about.

First stop was Outfest’s Annual QUEER BRUNCH at the Grubsteak, where anyone and everyone who is a part of the queer film circuit shows up to network with each other. Highlighting gay and lesbian films playing at both Sundance and Slamdance (check out Jenni Olson’s “Queer Guide to Sundance 2012” for a full listing of titles), the Queer Brunch was packed with producers, directors, festival programmers, and distributors talking about the buzz films at the festival. I spoke at length with Founder and CEO of Wolfe Video, Kathy Wolfe, about the advocacy work she is doing to stop the rapid rise of online piracy. Wolfe Video has devoted resources to searching for and removing pirated copies of many gay and lesbian films that have been illegally uploaded to the internet. Claiming that piracy is having a serious impact on distribution revenues of their catalog, Wolfe feels that the resources they’ve dedicated is well worth it, but that filmmakers also need to be extremely vigilant and aware of their own work that is being illegally uploaded, in order to help curb the problem. To learn more, check out Kathy Wolfe’s recent article, “Piracy Profiteers: Time to Walk the Plank,” published earlier this month in the Huffington Post.

Steven Poster, ASC welcomes cinematographers and friends to the Local 600 Party

I then made my way to the Local 600 Snowdance Party, held in a private condo on Park Ave. Steven Poster, ASC, gave a welcome speech and congratulated the members that have projects in the festival. It was a lovely, intimate gathering of cinematographers and friends of cinematographers. Some of the attendees included DPs Nancy Schreiber, ASC, Gavin Kelly, Julie Kirkwood, Rachel Morrison, Reed Morano, ARRI, KODAK, and FOTOKEM.

Onward to the Deluxe Party, up Main Street at Cafe Terigo, where we were welcomed by Deluxe VP of Sales, Steve Restivo. There’s been a little confusion about whether Technicolor and Deluxe have merged, but that is not the case. Deluxe and Technicolor have actually signed a 3-year agreement where Technicolor will subcontract its 35mm release printing business to Deluxe North America, and Deluxe will subcontract its 35mm print distribution business in the US to Technicolor. With motion picture film processing and printing seriously on the decline, the partnership provides a creative business solution to the significant changes occurring in the digital age.

Peggy Rajski and Christine Vachon at the FIND Party

Next up was the FILM INDEPENDENT Party at the Riverhorse. By far the best party of the day, it was packed with filmmakers, good food and a great DJ. New Co-Presidents Josh Welsh and Sean McManus took the stage to congratulate the Film Independent Fellows with projects in the festival. Sighted at the party were indie producers Christine Vachon, Matthew Medlin, Gina Kwon, Peggy Rajski, Steak House, amongst others. Upbeat and energized, the mood was quite celebratory and fun.

Josh Welsh and Sean McManus congratulate FIND Fellows at Sundance

At this point in the day, it was time to see a film. I caught the premiere of James Ponsoldt’s “Smashed” at the Library. Shot by cinematographer Tobias Datum, “Smashed” is a drama about alcoholism and how it affects a young married couple. Outstanding performances by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, Megan Mullally and Octavia Spencer, the film portrays the rocky road to sobriety with great authenticity and humor.

After the film, I hopped a shuttle to Deer Valley and headed home, but for some reason, I decided I wasn’t ready to retire for the evening. I checked my party list, and noticed that the Indie Mogul Party was happening at the Snow Park Lodge at the Deer Valley Resort.

Fotokem's Tom Vice and Ray Morfino at the Indie Mogul's Party

I arrived about 11pm, and the dance floor was rocking, as was the Oxygen Bar. My first time partaking in the recreational use of “fresh air,” I inhaled the flavored scents that were bubbling in the colorful tubes and it felt like some sort of strange medicinal aromatherapy. There were massage rooms, an open bar and funky jams on the dance floor. Everyone seemed to be having a great time in the swank ski lodge, especially the guys from Fotokem who were dancing up a storm. But the quote of the night overheard on my way to the coat check by a party-goer that pretty much sums up the evening, “I was just tickled by a stranger on the dance floor, it doesn’t get better than that!”

About Chris J Russo

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