Every year the Sundance Film Festival creates a few festival trailers to show before movies so they can thank their sponsors. This year they hired JibJab, the people who did that Internet cut-out animation spoofing the presidential election campaigns. That was pretty amusing, so I was curious what they would end up putting together. Let me just say right now: I hate JibJab. I almost respect the fact that they took Sundance's money and created three short pieces that make fun of the festival and the filmmakers. It would be subversive if the pieces weren't so unfunny and annoying, and to have to see one of them before every show is painful. Each one opens with the word "Independent," and then six letters fade to show the word "Inept" before fading out entirely. They then go into a story of someone who used to work for "the Man" before expressing their artistic side by going independent. The guy who paints lines on the highway decides he doesn't want to paint them straight, the demolitions woman decides to destroy whatever she wants, and in every one people die because off it. Like I said, it could have been interesting if the smug, self-satisfied narration was the least bit funny.

These festival trailers have, in a strange way, set the tone for the festival. No matter what I went to or what my press friends went to, everything came across as mediocre. Halfway through the festival, things are finally starting to change for the better. I don't know if we're picking better movies now, or if the festival is backloaded with better stuff--I suspect the latter. I'll talk more about the actual films next week.

Of course, if I'm not going to talk about the movies right now, you probably think I'll talk about the parties instead. Right you are. Once known for their big-ass blowout parties, the competitive Slamdance settled down to a smaller and mellower party on Main Street. My posse left there to go to the Inside Deep Throat party, which may end up being the best party of the festival. The movie is a documentary about how this little porn movie could become such a cultural phenomenon and such a moneymaker, and I hear it's good. The party was great, and not just because of the strippers dancing in the middle of this Mormon state, but because I was able to talk to a bunch of colleagues I hadn't seen in a while, including a bunch of the Police Beat crew.

Speaking of Police Beat, the movie had its world premiere last Sunday, and all in all it was a good day for Seattle. After that, there was a party put on by the city of Seattle to promote our city to the filmmaking world. Then came the official Police Beat party, which was one of the most comfortable and pleasant parties of the festival. Next week: the movies!