There are a lot of 8:30 am showings at Sundance, all of which were sold out last I checked. But, you wouldn’t know it from how dead the streets are this morning. You might get a hint at the indoor activity, however, from how utterly packed Clockwork Coffee on Main St. is. So jammed was this little cafe, I had to invite myself to share a table with three pretty young sales reps from Kodak, who were happy to oblige. The table next to me had a similar arrangement, with strangers getting to know one another for no apparent reason. This is how Sundance works. Everyone is so incredibly friendly, it gives me a tingle of hope that these here folks might actually be able to create world peace through film festivals. I’m sure they already think that they are.
Another example of this extreme coolness is what happened on Mains Street, Park City last night. I was at a party thrown by the Seattle Film Commission when, soon after a completely inaudible singer/songwriter mumbled his way off stage, the lights went out. ALL the power on Main Street went out. And guess what happened? Nothing. People carried on with their light drinking and movie-biz chit chatting as though nothing was wrong- -because nothing was wrong. It occurred to me that, if this were Philly, some testosterone addled bouncer would have forced us out onto the frigid streets where complete mayhem would ensue. But, here in civilization, a guy got up on stage with a flashlight, apologized, and we continued forging world peace.
No canvas of the activities surrounding Sundance would be complete without giving some mention of its red-headed stepchild, Slamdance. Founded seven years ago and still maintaining its DIY , let’s-go-tobogoning tomorrow attitude, Slamdance offers less commercial fare, all in one convenient, poorly heated location. I was delighted when my friend Andy gave me tickets to the one movie I really wanted to see at Slamdance, “New Year’s Parade”. For most Philadelphians, those three words conjure memories of frigid, groggy afternoons on Broad Street. In this patient, introspective drama about a year in the lives of a crumbling South Philly family, the generational bonds that make that day so special to our city are portrayed through the year-long preparations of the South Philadelphia String Band. “New Year’s Parade” shows the complex internal struggles of a each character through lingering close ups on their dour, hardened faces. Young Philly filmmaker Tom Quinn draws realistic performances from his non-actor cast, demonstrating his readiness for some real funding. Good luck to him and his film.