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Sundance: Part Deux, Day 2

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So in the Day 1 blog I mentioned one of the lesson’s learned was that it was worth the extra money to purchase credentials that give you admittance to several venues otherwise off limits to you at the festival. Today’s lesson is one of humility.

The day began pretty nicely -- a short night’s sleep notwithstanding. We had our free breakfast at the hotel, went to pick up actress Laura Kirk and give her a ride into Park City. She had arrived late the night before-- and was staying only 10 minutes away from our hotel in Salt Lake. We got into town early enough that we got a very good parking spot -- and Laura was nice enough to pick up the pretty reasonable $10 parking fee.

My girlfriend, Lori, and I had tickets to a screening of one of the New Frontier films at the festival called “O’er the Land.” It was an experimental documentary film -- and another short experimental film ran before it called “Out of Our Minds." Oddly enough, we wound up at the same screening as two other members of the "TOGI" crew. ("TOGI" is our handy abbreviation for “The Only Good Indian”.) Bob Hurst, our supervising sound editor, and Mark von Schlemmer, who was an editor on the movie, wound up next to us in the theater.

Both movies had a lot of lengthy, seemingly random shots with long droning sounds or ambient noise. It seemed to me that I would have enjoyed them more if they had either been a little shorter or a little less abstract. The short that ran before seemed particularly long -- and full of over-the-top, sometimes too-obvious, sometimes too-confounding symbolism. The trees that were bleeding as they were being chopped down had some obvious meaning -- but the Viking warrior that walked through the middle of the movie seemed pretty random.

Not the most enjoyable time I’ve spent in a movie theater, but now we’ve seen our weird, artsy, obscure movie at the festival and we can move on to the more story-driven stuff that I enjoy.

After the movie we headed out for a party being thrown by the Kansas Film Commission recognizing all three of the Kansas-connected films that are in Sundance this year. It was a standing-room only crowd, and a great chance to connect with other film makers to celebrate. The party ran up until our premiere screening at the festival. Tickets had sold out for this screening early on-- which is always a good feeling. I wasn’t able to get tickets for this showing -- but we were able to get in for the Q&A after the movie. The movie was extremely well received by our first audience -- and director Kevin Willmott is a master of Q&A’s. His interaction with the audience often gets as much buzz as the movies themselves.

So this all sounds well and good, doesn’t it? “Where’s the humility come in?” you may be wondering. Well … here it comes …

So after the successful screening -- we all head downtown to what has become one of our favorite spots: Flannigan’s. After a while the gang begins to disperse. Lori and I get unintentionally left behind and try to catch up with some of the gang elsewhere downtown. There are parties all up and down the street -- lot’s of velvet ropes and lists. We thought we might be able to get into one of the parties -- producer Scott Richardson had an invite but he wasn’t able to get the rest of us in, so we moved on.

Downtown Park City is a lot like downtown Lawrence: a lot of trendy shops, restaurants and bars, but it's up in the mountains and pitched at almost a 45 degree angle, so walking up and down Main Street is like doing laps on a Stairmaster. Lori and I decided to head back to Flannigan’s where the Gin Blossoms were supposedly playing. After buying a couple more $7 beers and hanging around to catch the band -- it became clear that they weren’t playing as advertised. So we left to try and catch up with the rest of the gang … again. On the way down Main Street, we passed the Film Maker Lodge-- one of those venues your $200 credential gets you into. So we went up the flight of stairs (why did they have to put it UPstairs?) to check it out. The security guy checks our badges and says “Great, you’ve got your badges out, thanks! Do you have your tickets?” “Tickets?!” I say.

Apparently the $200 credential gets you in … as long as nothing is going on. Are you beginning to see the humility thing?

So we catch up with the gang, now a little exhausted -- but the bar is too crowded and we decide to move on yet again. We’re now down at the lowest end of Main Street, and will have to hike back up the mountain to get to the transport center and catch a shuttle to our car.

On the way out, though, we see some digital displays showing a new 3D format. It’s honestly one of the most amazing technological things I’ve ever seen. You put on a pair of polarized glasses -- not the red green kind. High definition images seem to stretch out of the screen at you. It’s not blurry or dim. It doesn’t make you feel cross-eyed while watching it, and you’re not seeing double around the edges. The video is filled with sports and concert footage. The wide shots are amazing, but what blew me away were the close-ups. The concert footage is of U2, and at one point there is a close-up of Bono reaching out towards the camera, and it literally looked like his arm was passing through the glass and reaching out of the screen. Amazing.

So on that note, we decided to head back to the car and get back to the hotel. The next day’s schedule would be a lot lighter: Five more days to enjoy and find our way around the festival.

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