Sundance 2007: Day Three

A foolish imperial/metric conversion, and the aptly titled Snow Angels. That, and Freud's retroactive horror film.

by Amber Wilkinson

Ed Begley once again sets heart-rates rocketing.

Ed Begley once again sets heart-rates rocketing.

If you’d told me as a 12-year-old, glued to Channel 4 showings of St Elsewhere, that 23 years in the future I’d have Ed Begley Jnr’s hand on my shoulder so I could be snapped with him, I would doubtless have needed some emergency room treatment myself.

But anything can happen in a lifetime, no? And so it came to pass.

But more of that later. The day dawned bright and way too clear for there to be the remotest smidgen of heat – we’re talking two degrees Fahrenheit. I’ve stupidly checked that out in ‘real money’ and it turns out to be –16C… feel like we’re in a sequel to March Of The Penguins.

The first film of the day was the best of the fest so far. David Gordon Green's Snow Angels,. Starring Kate Beckinsale (equipped with American twang) and Sam Rockwell, it is a, by turns, bleak and funny relationship drama, featuring a depth of characterisation often lacking from Hollywood movies and a tone similar to that of Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm. Second up was the uber-kitsch Teeth, a comedy horror about a girl who discovers she has a genetic mutilation – vagina dentate… work it out. Film has bite, quite a lot of it, in fact, and will doubtless be a something of a cult hit and frightfest staple in the coming years.

"Warm up? We may as well sit round this cigarette." - Tony Sullivan, trying desperately to write amid the freezing cold.
The biggest problem here is finding time to write in between the madness. So Eye For Film took time out to bring you the goss. See, here we are typing furiously. Well typing, anyway.

Partying at Sundance is a strange affair. At virtually any time of the afternoon or evening one is happening somewhere and though they sound exciting, few really seem to live up to the hype. Equally, it seems slightly odd to have a ‘party’ for some of the more serious films on offer. However, it does present a great opportunity to meet the filmmakers.

Such was the case with the party for Nanking. The only other film about the Nanking Massacre that springs to mind is Hei Tai Yang Nan Jing (Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre), which combines archive material with reconstruction, the latter of which tends to cheapen the former. Although Eye For Film has yet to see Nanking, it sounds a much more quality treatment, using a range of gathered archival footage of the massacre – which saw some 300,000 Chinese die at the hands of the Japanese in only a few months – with voice-overs of letters from survivors. Hopefully we’ll get to see the end result this week and will be able to tell you more then.

The directors Dan Sturman and Bill Guttentag were chatty enough, although understandably somewhat reticent to talk in depth about the film before we had seen it. When asked about how well he thought the film would be received by the American public Sturman said: “Documentary is a dirty word in America, like something you endure, like science class.”

But he went on to add that he has high hopes, due to the quality of the piece, saying: “The public are discerning.”

Talking to directors is one of the great things about Sundance – here the emphasis is on the filmmaking as a whole, not just the acting and it’s great that the men and women behind the camera get a chance to step into the limelight and be celebrated as much, if not more than, their stars.

Aiming for quality party reporting on a Saturday night, Eye For Film headed down Main Street to The Ultimate Green Room, which was hosting a party to celebrate Brit Film Son Of Rambow – I’m hoping to catch up with director Garth Jennings later in the week, so keep your fingers crossed.

We got there to discover the world and his dog… and Ed Begley Jnr… were standing outside in the snow. Having secured wristbands for the event – and taken a good look round the place earlier in the week, we prepared for a wait.

The Green Room is a pretty good concept actually, or at least I think it is, benefiting The Creative Coalition. Here’s a bit about them from the press release, I’ll let you pick the bones out:

“The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, 501(c)(3), nonpartisan social and public advocacy organization of the entertainment industry. Founded in 1989 by prominent figures in the creative community, including actors Alec Baldwin, Ron Silver, Christopher Reeve, Susan Sarandon, Blair Brown and Stephen Collins, TCC educates and mobilizes leaders in the arts community on issues of public importance, specifically in the areas of First Amendment rights, arts advocacy & public education.” - Not going to win a plain English award, admittedly, but you sense their heart is in the right place.

But enough of the right on-ness – great though it is – and back to the party.

Stepping through the door was a little like entering the bar in Star Wars due to a very odd bar set up. While on one side of the room, dishy bar staff fixed tequilas that were heavy on spirit, a bar on the other side appeared to have a series of casualty victims hooked up to it. Each person was sitting with breathing tubes up their nose and, as far as we could tell, this was in the interests of fun. It seems they were breathing in flavoured oxygen, tch, as if the rareified atmosphere of Sundance isn’t enough.

In the corner, stood Ed Begley, togged out in his winter woollies like the rest of us. One tequila later and it seemed highly appropriate to ask him if he wouldn’t mind having his picture taken. Turns out the 57-year-old Mighty Wind actor is an absolute star in every sense of the word. “You want to have a picture with me?” he asked and before you could say wowyou’reasniceaguyinthefleshasyouseemonscreen there I was with his arm on my shoulder, grinning inanely. If you’re looking for us to have asked an incisive question at this point, we’re afraid we’ll have to disappoint, but we did find out that A Mighty Wind and Best In Show were his favourite roles and, more importantly, that he’s an all round good guy we’d like to chat to again.

Frankly, the excitement was all a bit too much, so shortly after Mr B left, we followed suit.

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