By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
On my way back from the bar, I run into David Zellner talking about a cinematic term called the Kuleshov effect. “An early Russian director discovered there are expressions that audiences can interpret multiple ways,” he says. “He used the same face, on the verge of tears, in various montages. Depending on the perspective, it would be experienced as either joy or agony.” I wonder if Kuleshov has been to Sundance.
Inner Sanctum of Swag
The Village at the Lift is a barricaded complex of stores and restaurants surrounding the ski lift that launches into mountains directly from the bottom of Main Street. Not even the festival express pass that gets bigtime film critics into screenings of their choice without waiting gains entry to The Village.
Much of Main Street gets converted into a promotional Potemkin village, but this is the most heavily fortified center of celebrity shoulder-rubbing and free stuff. In another act of festival identity theft, I got a badge for The Village from a friend, and even though it says Ivana Schechter-Garcia and features her picture, I took the risk that a quick, strategic flash would get me in, which is why I am now enjoying free food in The Village’s T-Mobile–sponsored café, watching Billy Baldwin get his photograph taken through the window.
Outside, a security guard named Alan describes all the other famous faces he’s seen from his post at The Village: “somebody off That ’70s Show”; “the girl from Scary Movie”; “a guy from The Matrix”; “that dude from 90210”; “oh yeah — and Tara Reid.”
As we huddle beneath a heat lamp, Crispin Glover hustles past. He’s here promoting his film It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine., whose principal character is a man with real-life cerebral palsy who has explicit sex with several women before strangling them.
“There goes the guy from Back to the Future,” Alan says. “He’s a real nice guy. I talked with him yesterday.”
I ask Alan if he’s familiar with the thematic content of Glover’s film.
When I explain it, Alan shrugs his shoulders and says, “I guess I don’t get out much.”
I follow Glover into the Philips lounge, where a Philips device is projecting a rotating snowflake on the bartender’s sweater and there is an enthusiastic young woman telling a visitor that “Philips is all about the experience” as she provides a tour of the company’s products on display, including Philips’ new portable, design-conscious defibrillator. Billy Baldwin is here as well, engaged in an interview in the back by my friend Whitney Pastorek, who is covering Sundance for Entertainment Weekly. Afterward, she shows me the contents of her commodious bag from the Fred Segal next door.
“Look at these boots I got!” she says, digging into her goodies. “You should head over there.”
But Fred Segal, I discover, requires yet another, higher insignia than mine. Foiled: Inside the VIP area is — yet another VIP area. As Albie Hecht, former president of film and television at Nickelodeon, told me while we were waiting to get into a party during the 2004 Democratic National Convention: “Even when you think you’ve made it to the seventh chamber, there’s always one more door to another chamber, and you don’t have the key.”
I revisit Alan, who breaks down the color-coded security regime. I have a green circle on my Village at the Lift card, but you need the blue square for entry into Fred Segal’s inner sanctum of swag. “It’s like on the slopes,” he says. At the highest order — possessed only by people like, say, Justin Timberlake — is a card emblazoned with a black diamond, the coveted and elusive seventh-chamber key.
The Freedom Campaign
For those bold-name jet setters who find carrying 50 pounds of gratis cashmere underwear and electronics they can afford to buy themselves too encumbering and/or embarrassing, there’s the new Luxestar Card, debuting this year at Sundance, which “gives celebrities the chance to select their own swag in the privacy of their own home.”
How convenient! The rest of the Luxestar press release, blissfully unaware of its own irony, speaks for itself:
“Park City, UT (January 15, 2007). For the FIRST TIME EVER, there will be a brand new way of gifting at the Sundance Film Festival .?.?. This is not your typical swag house. No more heavy bags full of useless merchandise, no more oversized clothing or oddly colored promotional items.
“Representatives will be on-site to guide guests through the Luxestar website and even assist them in ordering items on the spot. They simply log on and pick their favorite size, color, style and have it shipped to the address of their choice. For our high-end products/services, taxes then become the responsibility of the celebrity only for what they select and not for what they are given.”
And what goes better with shameless publicity and filthy lucre than the Burmese humanitarian crisis? Also from the same press release:
“In addition to new products, the Freedom Campaign will be there raising awareness. The Freedom Campaign will be working to showcase the campaign for Aung San Suu Kyi and introduce Hollywood’s famed actors and actresses attending to get involved and join the cause in Burma.”
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