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Sundance: An experience, lackluster in sun, as well as dancing

Despite being physically depleted due to dangerously little amounts of sleep, The Sundance Kids still decided to make it out to the profanely entitled dark comedy film “Bitch.” It started at 11:59pm and 30 minutes in, I heard the sounds of an oncoming snore from the friend next to me, who wishes to remain anonymous — and not pointing any fingers it could have been literally anyone but his initials are Nicholas Macedo. I nudged him, but he didn’t wake up. I nudged harder, but his snoring only grew louder. I panicked, so I threw my elbow into him hard, thinking it would pull him from his slumber. Neigh, instead it rearranged the shape of his trachea in such a way that his snore crescendoed into a cacophonous snore, loud enough for all of Park City, Utah to hear. Half of the theatre busted into laughter, and we hung our heads in a mixture of that, as well as shame. Nick sleepily thought, “Must have missed a funny part of the film,” before falling back into his slumber.

When we embarked on our adventure to the snow-blanketed mountains that looked like a default desktop picture, we knew we were in for, not only a variety of spectacular indie films, but also some films that were amazingly bizarre. It is Sundance, after all, and they’re trying to stay on the forefront of what’s cool and edgy.

After viewing a documentary called Unrest, about one woman’s journey to help de-stigmatize a frequently discredited disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, every single person in our row had moist eye holes from the cathartic experience. To top it off, the subject wheel-chaired to the front in a surprise visit, and when she opened it up to the audience, one young woman stood and proclaimed through tears, that she had been bedridden for years with the same disease, and wanted to thank her for making this movie. We were wrecked.

On the other end of the spectrum, we watched a film called World Without End, which was an hour-long documentary. It simply consisted of back-to-back still shots of a town. No story. No main characters. Just a man setting up a tripod and hitting record in different parts of town. The Q&A with the director afterwards was my favorite part: “This is a highly political film,” he said. When one audience member said, “I don’t know what the significance of the kid in the tree was,” he replied with eagerness “Me neither!”

What more can I say to paint the experience of Sundance?

Volunteers waiting in the onslaught of snow with smiles, always cheerily greeting, and in one particularly funny situation, doing dramatic reenactments of the small role they played in a big film, in order to entertain ticket holders while they waited in line.

Every single person around you eager to strike up a conversation about the films they loved and hated, and what brought them to Park City.

Snowball attacks as we rushed our way to our scheduled screenings.

Multiple art museums on Main St. in Park City, while we killed time between screenings.

Dramatic re-tellings of the films we saw to other members of the group who were at a different screening.

Inspired scripting sessions over mochas and tea in a Mom & Pop coffee shop in between screenings.

And of course, seeing a 25th anniversary screening of one of my favorite movies, Reservoir Dogs, after which Quentin Tarantino, the producer, and one of the stars came up to do an extended Q&A, which was more of a 45-minute reminiscent walk down memory lane for the 3 filmmakers, was a moment I’ll never forget.

It was worth the collective 15 hours we spent on the road from San Diego to Utah, and the 12 hours back. It was worth slamming on my breaks only to skid through ice into someone’s bumper, due to the fact that I don’t know how to drive in the snow. It was worth three days of unexcused absences. And it was easily worth the very minimal sleep. Because drinking coffee in the snowy mountains with friends, in between watching films that make you laugh, cry and question life is worth pretty much anything in my book.

About the author

Jonathan Pickett

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