I posted nearly 50 times during my eight-day Sundance stay — riffs, photos, reviews, video clips, complaints, praisings, interviews — and saw about 22 films, give or take. I was up at 6:30 or 7 am every day and usually quit around 1 am, and despite this I couldn’t cover what I wanted to cover and deliver decent HE material.
No one-man-band can beat that festival. You can only go there, work your fingers to the bone, do your best and not nail it. Every year my Sundance experience is about a win-lose ratio of 40-60, if that. You’re always missing two or three or four things in order to do one thing, and then the next day you’re seeing stuff that you missed a day or two earlier, but that means missing more new stuff. You tell yourself that you’re going to work harder than ever before, and it doesn’t effing matter.
It didn’t help that I was given a schlub-level press pass, despite pleas to the press office to please grant me the same kind of first-class, easy-access pass that i’ve been given for the last three years in Cannes. I got into several public screenings by the good graces of several publicist pals (thanks, guys!), but the schlub pass meant I had to spend at least two hours each day inside the Holiday Village press & industry cattle tent. Add that to the usual bus-and-taxi transportation time and that’s a big portion of the daily schedule.
Boo-hoo and poor me, right? I realize, of course, that several other press and industry persons were dealing with similar if not heavier pressures than mine, and that I’m nothing special. But you can’t cover what you need to cover at Sundance and write five or six stories per day — I know that. It’s just not possible.
For the last three years my pink-with-a-yellow-pastille pass at Cannes has allowed me to see most of the films at that festival and bang out fast-crack appraisals of most of them plus photos and whatnot, and I can’t really do that at Sundance. I can maybe see and attend and write about half of what’s doing, if that. I realize that Sundance lost the use of the Racquet Club this year, and that this has led to too many movies showing at too few venues.
Sundancing has always been like this. I’m glad I went. I got a lot done, saw a lot, moved around and dug in here and there. I love the beautiful snowfalls and speed-walking down Kearns Blvd. and the chit-chats on the free Park City bus service, and I felt gratified that I stuck to my decision to cut back on the parties. I basically avoided talking to pretty ladies because that only leads to pointless distraction and downtime. I’m not saying it was an unhappy or terrible experience, but it’s grueling as hell — brutal — and I’m just glad it’s over.
Thanks very much to the Sundance press office for their tireless efforts (I can only imagine what they have to deal with), but please guys….please consider giving me a slicker Anthony Breznican-level press pass next time. Thank you.