I stood outside for four hours in the snow and stared at a heated tent that I didn’t dare enter. Suddenly, a black van pulled up with a strange logo reading ‘film takes place.’ Out of the van stepped a group of overly excited filmmakers that soon rushed past me into the tent. Another unique independent film was about to play at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.
I began my relationship with The Sundance Institute last August when I accepted an internship with its feature film program. After months of hard office work and intense fights with the copy machines, I was invited to work at the film festival. I worked eight-hour days outside at one of the festival’s many theaters, manning the tent where actors entered.
The Sundance Film Festival was designed to give independent filmmakers an outlet to showcase their projects. This year’s festival featured 123 films within the shorts, documentary, premiere, world and dramatic divisions.
Months before the festival, I witnessed firsthand the different planning stages. The film selection process starts with a group of hired ‘watchers’ who view between four and six films a week and write coverage discussing each film’s strengths and weaknesses. Several people watch each film, and the clearly bad ones are quickly weeded out. Then the employees of the Institute’s programming department watch the remaining films, convene together and ultimately select the films that are in the festival.
Sundance takes place in Park City, a very small town about 45 minutes from Salt Lake City. Most of the films are screened in non-theater locations that can hold several hundred people. I worked as a crowd liaison for the Racquet Club Theatre, which is normally a basketball court.
I saw nine films at the festival and witnessed the buzz on several others that are sure to hit theaters soon. Some of the big premiere films included Martin McDonagh’s ‘In Bruges’ and ‘U2 3D’ and Michel Gondry’s ‘Be Kind Rewind.’
‘Be Kind Rewind,’ which I did not see, had many great promotions throughout the festival. This included a concert performance featuring the film’s lead actor Mos Def singing the music of Fats Waller, which is featured throughout the film. Gondry played drums in the background.
One of the most talked about premieres was ‘Incendiary.’ It stars Michelle Williams as a woman who grieves over the loss of her husband and son after a terrorist attack. The film premiered on Sunday, Jan. 21, just two days before her ex-fianc