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Sundance Part Deux Day 4

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Today my girlfriend and I had our own experience getting on the wait-list for a Sundance screening. “When You’re Strange,” a Tom DiCillo documentary about The Doors, had sold out all of its screenings very early on. There were two possibilities for getting tickets. One was going to the box office extremely early the day of the screening and being lucky enough to buy one of the handful of tickets they save for the day of the screening. The other possibility was to get a wait-list number by showing up at the theater a few hours before the screening. After waiting in line to get your number you can leave until 30 minutes before the screening. When you return to the theater you line up by your wait-list numbers. They count the empty seats and allow that many people from the wait-list to buy a ticket. We got numbers 24 and 25. Somehow I couldn’t imagine that many seats being available, but we decided to take the chance.

There were murmurs in the line -- people taking approximate head-counts of the people in the ticket-holders line and comparing it to the number of seats in the theater. Some people thought maybe 10 people on the wait-list would get in … some guesses were as optimistic as 30 or 40. To my surprise, our line began moving. They quickly let 10 people in. Then 8 more. Not all of the 23 people with higher waitlist numbers than us had returned so with 18 people let in, we were now at the head of the line. We could be in the theater within minutes. A Sundance volunteer with a headset would report in how many remained in the waitlist and everyone in the line waited with baited breath to see if they would let in any more people. She told us it was starting to look very tight in the theater. About then, two people who had bought tickets showed up less than 15 minutes before show time. According to the agreement you make when you buy the tickets -- you forfeit your seat if you’re not there 15 minutes before the movie starts. So the wait-list line grumbled as the latecomers were let in after we had been waiting in line for a few hours. And then the volunteer told us “Sorry! The theater is full.” So close … yet so far away.

After that we decided to check out the Music Café -- our pricey credentials should get us in -- but events and ticketing are so complicated at the festival -- you try not to get your hopes up. When we got to the venue -- we saw two long lines waiting to get in. One line was for credential holders, the other was for people without credentials. For every 8 people with credentials allowed in, they would let in 2 people who didn’t have them. Luckily, we didn’t have a long wait, only about 20 minutes. While we waited we started a conversation with the woman in line in front of us -- talking about the strange liquor laws in Utah, and the complicated ticketing system at the festival -- and seeing my Cast and Crew credential, asked about our movie and when we got inside she bought us each a drink. We were packed like sardines into the tent -- John Reznik, the lead singer from the Goo Goo Dolls, was scheduled to play. We wound up stuck behind a large plasma screen TV, and for half of his set, it blocked our view of the stage. All this way and all this waiting, just to watch him on a TV set. Eventually, though, we got into a better position – at one of the few tables available. At the next table over, was actor Jake Busey – so we got another celebrity sighting in while we were there. After Reznik’s performance was over, the tent cleared out quite a bit and we were able to move closer for the next act: Rachel Yamagata. She was one of the performers we had looked up on YouTube before heading out to the festival, so we already knew we would enjoy her performance of soft and soulful ballads.

After her set, we left the Music Café to get some food. Stepping out of the café, we were passed on the street by actor Alan Cummings, who was walking with comedienne and actress Sandra Bernhard. We heard a girl scream in excitement a little further down the street -- we couldn’t see who was the raven haired woman she was reacting to -- but she politely turned down the girl's request to have her picture taken with her. Shortly after that, actor Johnny Lee Miller crossed the street nearby and though moving fast, made a quick stop to pose for a photo with a fan. It seemed that the bottom of Main Street would be a good place to make celebrity sightings downtown.

You overhear a lot of conversations at the festival, on the bus, or waiting in line, or walking down the street. We heard someone talking about Ashton Kutcher turning down a drink offered to him by his wife, Demi Moore. “He said he wouldn’t drink absinthe, he said that it’s poison!” A very excited girl ran out of a building on Main Street exclaiming “Oh my God! I just peed next to Paris Hilton!”

After meeting with some of the crew for pizza, we decided to call it a day and head back to Salt Lake -- a little disappointed to reach the end of the day without seeing a movie. We hopped onto a bus to get back to the festival parking area. My girlfriend overheard a couple of women next to us on the bus trying to get rid of 2 tickets for a premiere screening of a movie called “I Love You Phillip Morris.” We took them up on the offer.

“I Love You Phillip Morris” is a comedy starring Jim Carrey as a real-life con man who winds up committing all kinds of fraud -- getting thrown in and then conning his way out of prison. While in prison he falls in love with fellow inmate Phillip Morris (no relation to the tobacco company) who is played by Ewan McGregor. The two stars were there for the premiere and answered questions after the movie. The movie plays a bit like a cross between “Catch Me if You Can” and “American Beauty” with lots of fun and playfulness in portraying the acts of fraud and some soulful moments of self realization mixed in with the humor.

After the movie we hopped back on the bus and headed back to our car to return to Salt Lake. After our disappointment with the wait-list, we were happy that a chance meeting on the bus allowed us to catch a world-premiere film at the festival.

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