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Sundance Part Deux Day 5

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We got to a late start today. We were going to try and wait-list for “Sex, Lies and Videotape” which was having a one-time screening at the Egyptian on Main Street. The movie is one of the “Sundance Collection” movies that came out of previous years of the festival. Unfortunately, getting in a bit late combined with getting on the bus that took the longest possible route to find downtown, made us miss the chance to get a wait-list number.

We grabbed a late breakfast at a café called Java Cow. As with every eatery, theater, club or panel discussion, there was quite a line and a bit of a wait. In the line behind me was actress Gina Torres -- familiar to me from Joss Whedon’s television shows “Firefly” and “Angel.” She was very stunning in a long white overcoat, and much taller than I realized. We managed to catch a table, and were able to sit down and relax with our coffee and sandwiches.

As we headed out of the cafe, we were stopped by a bit of shifting of the crowded line, someone was posing for a picture with fans, but we couldn’t see who it was until the crowd dispersed a little, and we made our way to the exit. He turned around and it was actor and comedy legend Robin Williams. My girlfriend, Lori, and I both had brief exchanges with him as we passed him on the way out.

I needed to get a hat -- because up in these mountains, the sun is really unforgiving. While in the shop, the woman behind the counter noticed my “The Only Good Indian” cast and crew credentials and asked about our movie. It turns out she was from Santa Fe, where our lead actor, Wes Studi lives. She asked if this was our first film in the festival and I told her about “C.S.A.,” our 2004 festival entry. A customer in the store overheard those initials, and said, “Do you mean ‘Confederate States of America’?” I said yes, and he said the film was one of his favorites and explained that he first saw it on cable channel IFC but had later ordered it on Netflix and kept it for a month and a half – watching it repeatedly. I had to ask him where he from -- because it still is a bit unexpected to me when someone outside of Kansas tells me they know of the film, let alone that they are a big fan. He said he was from Utah but hadn’t seen the film when it was at Sundance.

We had a midnight screening to wait for, so we were basically killing time checking out the different venues at the festival. We met up with assistant editor and postproduction coordinator Vickie Goetz at the Queer Lounge. It’s a sort of cafe with seating arranged for conversation -- sponsored by Absolut vodka and GLAAD, there were free bottles of Fiji water and small packages of trail mix among other treats. While we sat to re-hydrate -- one of the actors in the film we saw last night sat down next to us for an interview with a Spanish language interviewer. His name was Rodrigo Santoro, and he had played another of Jim Carrey’s love interests in “I Love You Phillip Morris.” We told him that we had really enjoyed the movie, and having earlier asked his publicist if it would be all right, Lori posed for a photograph with him.

It was quite a day for celebrity sightings. Later on we would see British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor -- his film “Dirty Pretty Things” is one of my favorites. We also saw country singer Wynonna, who would be performing in the Music Cafe later on. The crowning celebrity sighting however might have to be when Lori and I stopped in one of the bars at the bottom of Main Street and noticed actors Peter Gallagher and Kevin Bacon chatting at the end of the bar. I mean… it’s Kevin Bacon, right? He’s like the nexus of all celebrity. If you’ve seen him, you’ve seen them all!

We met up with director of photography Matt Jacobson for dinner, and later stopped by the Film Maker’s Lodge and ran into our supervising sound editor Bob Hurst, and editor Thad Nurski. While in the lodge we spotted actor Ewen Bremner -- best known for playing Spud in the movie “Trainspotting”

We left the lodge about an hour before our midnight screening of “White Lightnin” which is a sort of fictionalized version of the crazy life of Jesco White, an Appalachian man who grew up in poverty and addicted to huffing gasoline. A short documentary about his life called “The Dancing Outlaw” was made in the early 1990s. This fictionalized version makes real some of Jeco’s wild imaginings and does an amazing job of conveying his chaotic mindset. The movie was filled with shocking, disturbing images. More than once Lori had to cover her eyes. At the Q&A afterwards, I asked the director about the extensive use of black in the movie. There were many dissolves or cuts to black in the film, and the screen was often black during main character’s narration. The film’s director, Dominic Murphy, explained that it was an idea that was decided upon very early in the process, and was a way of evoking both the stream-of-consciousness speaking style of Jesco’s, and also the fragmented memories of the character.

It was an amazing film, and an interesting counterpart to the Jim Carrey movie we had watched the night before -- both being based on real-life characters but taking vastly different approaches. It’s been an exciting glimpse of the range of films at the festival this year -- and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

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