Sundance

by

 

Sundance

 One of the first things I see off the shuttle in downtown Park City – it has one main street, called Main Street – is a line of people wearing fur coats and carrying signs that say “ONLY ZOMBIES KILL ANIMALS AND WEAR THEM.” I pan from their coats to their faces and see that they are made up as zombies, with ashen skin, bruises for eyes and hot red lines around their mouths to show that they have been eating something that was once alive and had blood flowing through its veins. It’s a bright, cheery day, mid-afternoon, and they look like they have come up from the grave, starved for blood, and would be freezing if it weren’t for their fur coats.  A crowd has formed around them because in addition to the screaming signs they are shouting imprecations at people passing them on the narrow sidewalk, some of whom (but not many) are headed next door to a store that sells fur coats.

If it were the first scene in a film I guess it would be of the apocalyptic “Bladerunner” or “12 Monkeys” kind, the rabid people shouting about killing meaning to encourage passersby to think about their actions, life and death on the line, and so on.  I watch for a minute, then turn with the crowd because someone has seen, or thinks he or she has seen, Cameron Diaz. I am not so sure I want to see Cameron Diaz after the anti-zombies, so I keep walking in search of food. Something simple, I think, which to me almost always means “hamburger,” which I am even more ravenous for after watching the zombies. I walk into the first place that has the word “grill” on its sign, and though it is 3 p.m. the place, called The Hideout, is packed upstairs. The hostess invites me to go down into the basement bar and I do, finding a giant taxidermied moose head mounted on the wall at the head of the stairs. Down in the bar, in the dark, groups of people who may or may not be movie people are watching the Arkansas-Philadelphia semi-final. I take a seat at the bar, order a bacon burger, and a young man named Andrew introduces himself immediately. He tells me he is a make-up artist from Mississippi and he is in town with a film at Slamdance, the film festival that sprang up in the shadow of Sundance (and that Lynn Shelton won three years ago with her first feature film, “We Go Way Back”). Philadelphia scores a touchdown while Andrew tells me he is really proud of working out really cheap and easy-to-film effect of a throat being cut. It involves a substance like molasses and food-coloring and, he says, “a dull knife.” 

I still have a ticket to only one film: “The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle,” which is the film Northwest Film Forum’s Start-to-Finish program nurtured and helped to produce (my predecessor, Michael Seiwerath, has the Executive Producer credit on the film). Tickets for almost everything are hard to get. They are, actually, nearly impossible to come by. As I finish my hamburger and Arkansas starts a come-back, I wonder if the screaming, animal-loving anti-zombies outside have any spares for, say, “Johnny Mad Dog,” a film about some brutal murders that is getting almost as much buzz as the film Lynn Shelton has brought, “Humpday,” a film everyone with a Seattle zip code must now know is in competition here and which is getting loved up pretty well. The Humpday condo, where I will be staying the next couple of nights, will be wired up, I think.  “When you come tomorrow,” one of the film’s producers tells me, I’ll probably have been up all night.” He will be looking at conversations they are having with buyers, and he will probably be a little ashen, he says. In the good sense,though, not the strange, animal-activist sense.

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