Sundance Film Festival Recap

The dance floor at the Sundance Awards Party. That’s me in the middle. Honest.

The Sundance Film Festival pulls out today after another successful year of unbridled, hedonistic hoopla. And I have to say this Sundance was one of the best I’ve had the pleasure to attend. Both in terms of quality of films and how much fun I had.

I live very near a couple of the screening venues, and with such close proximity to the craziness I either have to embrace Sundance fully or leave town. I choose to embrace the festivities, even though I could probably rent my house out during Sundance for a bazillion bucks a night. However, I really don’t want to deal with the possible collateral damage brought on by Tinsel Townies partying in my home.

Heee’s Baaack!

Like that crazy uncle who visits once a year, whether you want to see him or not, every Sundance Film Festival leaves an indelible impression, bits of which almost always evolve into Park City urban legend. Benign stories get blown up out of proportion (usually by me) to the point that wild debauchery and mayhem are the “it” couple of the festival (closely followed by the Olsen Twins).

But since you probably weren’t here last week, let me mention a few Sundance highlights. Actually, more like suggestions to John Cooper and his ever-dedicated Sundance crew. Even though this was one of the best festivals Sundance has put on, there’s always room for improvement. Let’s face it, in a recap anyone can talk about which movies they liked best. But no one can take issue with my Sundance “observations” because they really happened. And since I live in Park City and have been to every Sundance Film Festival since 1988 I feel it’s my duty to share them with you (and Mr. Cooper, if he’s listening), if for no other reason than to make you appreciate the fact that YOU can go into your own hometown liquor store the second half of January without stumbling upon pretentious debates over California versus Oregon pinots.

The Sundance Updo

My view of many of the movies at the Sundance Library venue

The female hairdo du jour this year at Sundance seemed to be the updo hair knot piled on top of one’s head like a stack of roast beef lounging on a slice of rye. Really ladies? Let’s deconstruct. You’re going to the movies. Why on earth would you sport a hairstyle that blocks the view of the poor guy behind you? I swear I ended up staring at the back of more overly ornate topknots than Vidal Sasson. It’s not like it’s a hat. I can’t exactly ask you to remove your bun so I can watch indie movie gay sex (a common theme at Sundance) unfold on the big screen. Please, undo that North Pole ponytail, shove your greasy mane under an O.J. knit cap like the rest of us and be done with it.

The Sundance Seat Shuffle

Me with actor Dermot Mulroney at Sundance. Okay, I would scoot in if I got to sit next to him.

When any Sundance theatre venue gets crowded (and they all do) the volunteers want everyone to shift seats toward the center. This makes the end seats available to the waitlist folk so that every seat is filled.

I don’t think so.

I, like many cinemaphiles, cue up hours early so that I may carefully choose my seat. At $15 a pop for an unproven movie, that’s the least Sundance can allow me.

But if the volunteers have everyone do an impromptu Chinese fire drill right before the movie starts, then it’s inevitable I end up sitting behind either A) the girl with a hair spout so tall you can hang Christmas ornaments off of it, or B) the big bald dude with a head the size of Russia (the country not the map).

Honestly, why should we all scoot together so the waitlist people can sit together? They came to the party late. They can split up. It’s not like they’re going to chat during the movie. And no, I don’t mind if someone has to crawl over me to get to an empty seat. At least I know I’ll be able to enjoy the movie even if I had to endure you stepping on my toe before it starts.

Shopping Sundance Style

Why is it that everyone who comes to Sundance acts like they’ve never been in a grocery store before? It’s bad enough that the lines are longer than usual, but do you have to do your shopping right there from the checkout conveyer belt? How many items can you say you forgot while the cashier is ringing you up before it starts to look like a conspiracy? Dude, you’re holding up the line by going back for Dr. Pepper and Pringles AFTER the checker has already started bagging your groceries. Why is it you can make a film that can get into Sundance, but you can’t compose a grocery list? Seriously, download the Shopping List app so the rest of us can go home and get dinner on the table before nine o’clock.

Say What?

At the risk of sounding like an old fart, would somebody PLEASE turn down the volume on the rock music documentaries? I saw both Sound City and The History of the Eagles, Part 1, both of which I loved. But do they have to be so loud they would make a deaf man’s ears bleed? Believe me, I love that music. I grew up on it. I tortured my own parents with it. And I’m sure I listened to it loud back then. But when the sound coming out of the speakers actually makes the stage curtains sway (I’m talking about you, Library venue) then you know you’ve got a problem.

The Sundance Fire Drill

Just give this guy a bucket of water and call it good.

On day 2 of Sundance I was in the packed ticket holder tent at the Eccles Theatre waiting to see the premier of Kill Your Darlings when all of a sudden there was a loud “pop, pop, pop”, followed by a cloud of smoke. Hundreds of people hit the floor, while an equal amount of patrons bolted for the exits in what can only be described as a spooked cattle stampede.

Turns out a fire extinguisher had fallen off the wall and broke open.

Note to Sundance: It might be safer to replace fire extinguishers in these tents with calendar-quality, scantily dressed firemen carrying buckets of water. True, they may not be able to completely put out a fire, but at least they’d give us something interesting to look at while waiting in line. As for the possibly of the tent burning down? Well, that’s just a chance I’m willing to take.

Other than these little nits to pick this year’s festival might be my favorite one to date. In the last couple of years Sundance has become increasingly better, and for that I’m eternally grateful, since I have to live with this five ton gorilla in my front yard 10 days out of every year.

Now if we can only figure out how I can scam a Festival VIP parking pass (even though I’m not a VIP of any sort) all would be golden.

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Stacy Dymalski is the host of the hilarious TV talk show “Mother Bloggers” on She’s also an award winning keynote speaker and stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage.

For more of Stacy’s comedy check out her book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom available in bookstores and on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.