I want to tell you my exciting stories of Sundance and being a college student again, but it’s about all I can do right now to keep my eyes open. So instead, I give you photos I took a couple days ago. There’s this weather “inversion” that’s hanging over Utah Valley and keeping all the pollution trapped inside, sometimes masquerading as fog but more often it’s a haze that’s clearly visible from higher elevations.
On the plus side, it makes early morning drives very pretty because of all the frost that collects on the trees. The frost disappears mid-morning, leaving the trees a drab winter brown—but then the frost reappears again overnight. It’s fabulously magical and makes it easier to get up on cold winter mornings.
I skipped the Sundance Film Festival volunteer pre-party on Wednesday night because I was exhausted and not up for the long trip to Park City, let alone hanging out with a crowd of a thousand people. I was going to meet up and carpool with my friend Jenny, who I met at last year’s festival, but I bailed on her. We’d been emailing a little and I told her I wasn’t sure about going—and then I declared my final decision via text message. To prove how cool she is, Jenny responded: “Boooooo. that’s okay, I forgive you.” I appreciated her unsolicited forgiveness and went to bed early.
Friday morning, after attending classes from 8-10am, I started driving up Provo Canyon into the mountains. I forgot to bring my camera, which is a shame because it was a beautiful day.
As much fun as I had volunteering at the awesome Sundance venue of Egyptian Theatre in Park City last year, I requested shifts at the Sundance Resort this year because it’s a much closer drive. It’s turning out to be a dramatically different festival experience than last year.
The environment itself is extraordinarily low-key. Unlike the Egyptian, which is smack dab in the middle of the busy festival on Main Street in Park City, the Sundance Resort is 45 minutes away from Park City and offers only one theater. A path starts at the base of the mountain, where skiiers and snowboarders line up for the chairlift, and winds past rustic and unadorned resort buildings, outdoor art globes that encourage environmental responsibility, and an in-ground fire pit with benches all around. The wood smoke drifting through the cold, mountain air adds a distinct aroma to the mountain resort ambiance. Bridges cross over a cold, rushing creek, and wooden signposts direct pedestrians at forks in the path. The Screening Room, as it’s aptly called, is a golden-hued wood building nestled among, and mostly obscured by, tall trees.
I walked up the well-worn wooden steps and into the lobby at 10:45am, where I was greeted by a flurry of staff members and volunteers preparing for the kick-off of the first film. Though Park City venues screen five or six films a day during the festival, from 8:30am until after midnight, Sundance screens only four films a day at set times: noon, 3:00pm, 6:00pm, and 9:00pm. I introduced myself to new faces and re-introduced myself to the people I met at the prior week’s training session, picked up my volunteer uniform, then dove right in to on-the-job box office training. Having worked at the front desk of a hotel for four years, the job itself was not a big deal.
People relaxed a little after the first film (Carmo, Hit the Road) started, and that’s when I was able to get to know some of them a little more. It’s exciting to discover new people who live in Utah County, appreciate independent film, and who are not only nice but also swear, watch R-rated movies, and drink wine. As most imports to the heavily Mormon-influenced world of Utah County will tell you, it can be a very difficult and isolating place to live if you are not Part Of The Culture. Hell, I have Mormon friends who grew up elsewhere who agree that it’s a wacked-up place to live. Anyway, it’s just nice to meet new people and not have to dance around Who I Really Am.
The director of the first film, Murilo Pasta, walked into the lobby about halfway through its screening. He gave a big hug and Brazilian besos (kisses on each cheek) to Bonnie, the theater manager, and then came over to the volunteer table and greeted the few of us with warm handshakes and “It’s nice to meet you, [each name here].” Most of the directors I saw last year barely even gave the theater manager the time of day, but Mr. Pasta (tee hee) was obviously a different brand of director. Of course he’s Brazilian, so that may have had something to do with it.
He held a Q&A session with audience after the film, and schmoozed with filmgoers in the lobby afterwards. The “box office” where I was stationed was basically a table by the entrance to the theater, so I had a front row seat to it all. The job is pretty easy—besides taking money and doing some paperwork, I just stood there looking official and answered questions as people asked them.
I had a short shift and was able to stay to watch the 3:00 film, Corazón del Tiempo (“Heart of Time”). Some parts were difficult for me to follow because I’m not familiar at all with the political situation or the Zapatista revolution of rural Chiapas, Mexico, but otherwise I enjoyed it. The rural setting was beautiful and the depiction of the tight-knit community very compelling, but I really loved the relationship between the sun-wrinkled, toothless grandmother and her preteen granddaughter.
I went home after the film and the rest of my night was kind of boring and filled with falling asleep on the couch. I had planned to go up to Park City today, but I’m not sure if that’s going to happen since I have a lot to do otherwise. I’ll share more exciting Sundance events as they occur—my next shift is tomorrow morning.
On a scale of 1-10, I find this really wacky/zany/awesome/weird: A hand-knitted model of the human digestive system (aka gastrointestinal tract for you sciencey people) from strangebuttrewe.com. Visit the site for more close-up photos that will blow your mind.
It’s finally Sundance time, and I’m volunteering again this year. The 2009 Sundance Film Festival is now in session in several locations around Northern Utah. Most of the events are occurring in Park City, where I volunteered last year (at the Egyptian Theater). But I live closer to the Sundance Resort where it all started, and managed to snag a box office volunteer spot there. Yay!
Last week I went up there for training and orientation. I’d never visited the Screening Room before, but despite a major lack of signage, it wasn’t too hard to find. It’s a decently sized (but still cozy) theater with under 200 seats. I took the brief tour that was offered, and learned where Robert Redford sits if he chooses to visit. There’s actually a small section of seats that are reserved for “Mr. Redford or any of the Redfords,” so I guess the whole fam gets benefits. Makes sense.
A few minutes later, the group of volunteers was standing in the lobby listening to the theater manager’s spiel. Suddenly, there was a huge noise like what I imagine a pipe bomb sounds like when it goes off, immediately followed by the whole side of the building shaking and threatening to collapse and crush us all. I jumped with the crowd and moved away quickly from the shit-I’m-going-to-die area. Then an avalanche of snow tumbled over the side of the roof (which was visible because that side of the building is all glass or plexiglass) and landed with a muffled *slam* on the ground.
It was just snow. But if anyone had been standing in the particular area at that time, they would probably have needed some medical care. Yikes.
Back to the tour! I also learned that Glenn Close is on the board of directors and attends the festival every year, so the fact that I took her ticket last year at the Egyptian was not really that big of a deal since the odds were pretty good. I never finished the blog entry about that, but I pledge to be a better festival blogger this year.
You can get more juicy, up-to-the-minute Sundance blather on my Twitter feed that I’ll be updating from my phone.
The theater tour also included a brief visit to the projection room, where John the Projectionist told us that it was a very rare projection room because it actually contained equipment to show every type of film from 8mm to high-end digital (including 3D). I was impressed. Granted, I’ve had little exposure to projection rooms since high school. I asked John if I could snap a couple of photos, and he was even nice enough to pose for one!
Here’s one of the older projectors (there were three), with some artfully placed filmstrips. The tour had already moved on, so I didn’t have time to worry about photo composition.
And here’s the new Sony digital projector that sits front and center. The heavenly halo and singing angels surrounding it didn’t come out very well in the photo, so you’ll just have to imagine them.
And then after the tour I went home. I will take more photos and maybe I’ll even find a way to share some of them. I’ll be heading back to Sundance tomorrow morning immediately after my two morning classes, so watch that Twitter feed to find out if I’m caught in any Roof Avalanches. Though I’m guessing that I have a better chance of seeing Glenn Close again.
I’m adding to my most recent Update Vomit post with some photo evidence. First, a self-portrait taken late in the evening on Christmas Eve. The bow on my jester-like Santa hat had been hastily placed by Ben onto the FedEx box that contained Rock Band 2, which arrived at 5:30pm on Christmas Eve. Poor FedEx guy wasn’t even at the door long enough for me to offer him a cookie.
Cute as we look there, the rest of the night was spent fighting for control of our band’s tour schedule.
Phoebe had a hard time with our new arrival since it took attention away from her. We would have let her participate, if only she’d had opposable thumbs or a less whiny singing voice.
Loki would rather watch us play Rock Band than participate. Also, can you get him another beer while you’re up?
While in Colorado last week, my Aunt Jeanette lovingly donated her hair stylin’ services to me after hours. She liked the way the color was turning out.
Did I mention that the color was purple? The demi-permanent color streaks have sadly washed out quite a bit already. Next time, I going for more purple and more permanent!
And finally, here’s my sister as she watches the transformation. Not only is she smarter than me, but she’s also a much better dresser. (Geekiness, though? I win, hands down.)
I should figure out how to make an automated “Gone Fishing” message appear when I haven’t blogged in a while. Then you would know that an update-vomit* is on its way!
What I did over my Christmas vacation
- Hosted a kickass adults-only Christmas party with kickass white elephant gift exchange and kickass imbibing of beer, cheese balls, and sugary snacks. The being-feverishly-knitted-at-the-time hat was stolen from me at the gift exchange, so I ended up with a Miracle Bread Stamper, Utah-shaped cookie cutters, and three packets of official Mormon orange jello.*
- Had a somewhat crappy pre-Christmas that I was in no mood to blog about.
- Had a good and snowy Christmas Morning at home, failed to go caroling at Senior Centers with friends in the early afternoon, and then Ben and I spent the early evening with a former coworker who is undergoing cancer treatment.
- Played our newly acquired Rock Band 2 (for Xbox 360). A lot.
- Played Killer Bunnies with friends and cursed the impracticality of the rules. It gets a FAIL for intuitive gameplay. Though the ways that bunnies died were amusing (for most of us, anyway).
- Played Rock Band 2 with friends, for which gameplay was more than intuitive; It was AWESOME.
- Met with my government-issued Employment Counselor to discuss taking classes at Utah Valley University—the cost of which would be covered because I was laid off from a company that sent jobs overseas. Signed some papers that were immediately wrapped in 4 rolls of red tape.
- Celebrated New Year’s Eve at home with Ben, with Fuzzy Navels and another new game, this time for the Wii: MySims Kingdom. It started off slow (survivable with a light buzz and sarcastic/inappropriate comments) but actually turned into an enjoyable game for me. Lots of collecting things and some puzzle-solving—a perfect blend for my OCD tendencies. Ben zonked out on the couch for a little while, and for some reason we watched the ball drop on TV. Every year we turn off the TV at 12:01 and wonder why it’s a tradition to watch it, and then make our first official resolution: Not to bother watching NBC’s “Rockin’ New Year’s Eve” next year.
- Saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button with Ben on New Year’s Day and most definitely cried in the theater. There were a few small incongruencies that didn’t make sense to me, but other than that it was a great movie. Also, see: Brad Pitt Is Hot.
- Flew to Denver on Jan. 2 where I met up with my mom and we spent a few days visiting my sister and her Norwegian holiday house guest (who happens to be my “little brother” from my year in Norway, whom Monique invited out after they became friends through that magical place called Facebook, and whom she is not dating because that would be some sort of weird incest even though they’re not related).
- Bought an ugly sweater at Monique’s favorite Arc thrift store in Denver.
- Attended an Ugly Sweater Party at Monique’s house and finally met a bunch of her grad school and French Club friends.
- Tried a weirdly delicious spiked blueberry lemonade at Bar Louie in Denver, which accompanied a $1 Tuesday Night Special burger ($3.50 with my desired toppings).
- Saw Marley and Me with Monique and her roommate. It’s a good thing we had some extra restaurant napkins on hand to catch all the chick flick crying that was going on. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone to movies regularly, but I don’t think there’s ever been a time when I’ve seen two tear-jerkers within one week. It’s like if there were a Lifetime Channel movie theater or something. But seriously, Marley and Me was better than I expected.
- Flew home on Wednesday, dropped off my bags at home, and drove up to the Sundance Resort for my training/orientation for the upcoming Sundance Film Festival. I have more to share about that, and won’t diminish its coolness by including it in this update-vomit.
- Met with a UVU adviser and registered for a full courseload of classes that, if completed, would award me with an associates degree in business management. Because I already have my BA, all the general education requirements were waived so I’m free to start taking electives in Digital Media. I’ve already attended a couple classes, but that is also worthy of a separate blog entry.
Next time there might even be some photos of some of the aforementioned events. Hey, it doesn’t take a BA in English/Creative Writing to know that you have to give your readers a reason to come back!
* There actually was a little vomit involved in Denver after eating some presumably shellfish-tainted restaurant chicken. Monique was sick, too, and is also allergic, and the non-allergic person who also ate chicken was not affected. I’m sorry to bring vomit to my blog. It’s a new high for me, to be sure.
** Distributed by the church. Seriously. “You can’t BUY that, you know,” said the giver. (I don’t like jello [brand name Jell-O or generic gelatin] much in the first place, but I certainly won’t touch it if it has shredded carrots mixed in. Is that a vegetable? Dessert? Trans-fat? I haven’t seen it in person, but many Utahns have reported that rumor to be true. I think I’d rather have a stapler in my jello.)