Paris, Utah

There are two sides to the Sundance Film Festival: the movies and the parties. I must say right now that I have seen some excellent movies (including the documentary Dig!, which is about the codependent relationship between the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre), but I'm not going to write about them here. Instead I will cover the other side, the dark and dirty side, the place of goody bags and schmoozing. Sundance is a very social place; hop onto any of the free shuttles and you will end up talking to the people next to you about what they liked and what they didn't, no matter who they are. Sometimes they're yahoos from Salt Lake City, other times they're acquisitions people from Miramax. And if you talk to the right person, you might just get an invite to tonight's hot party.

Speaking of parties, on Friday my Seattle crew and I hit the party at the Filmmaker Lodge, where we absorbed the executive director of the Seattle International Film Festival, Helen Loveridge, into our group. That's where we had our Robert Redford sighting, passing him on the stairs as we headed out to the Music Cafe party. At each stop we added to our entourage, and each new person gave us new parties to go to. We traveled from the Fox Searchlight party to the Queer Lounge, to a party in celebration of a film from Fuji. Surprisingly enough, the thing that stopped us in our tracks was knowing the doorperson at the Volkswagen party, because she knew we weren't on the list.

The next day, after a couple more great movies (including a Thai film and the new Guy Maddin), I met my peeps at the Crown Royal party. By the time I got there they had already left the blaring music inside, and just as they were telling me about how Paris Hilton sat at the bar next to them, I saw her walking right past me. I don't know why she's here, other than to burn up her 15 minutes that much faster. Same goes for her Simple Life costar Nicole Ritchie. I ended the night at the Slamdance party, which was not the easiest place to meet people, but had some good N.Y. garage rock happening.

Sunday was the day for the Seattle party. There's something strangely comforting in seeing so many people from your hometown in a foreign location. You end up talking with people, vendors, filmmakers (including the makers of the Richard Peterson documentary, the Bruce Bickford documentary, and Evergreen) who you don't otherwise see on your home turf. When that ended (Sundance parties generally run for a limited amount of time), one of our new good friends got us into the exclusive Showtime party, where we saw actor Mario Van Peebles (for the second year in a row), director Ernest Dickerson, and a host of indie film players.

Next week: more party talk, but also more talk about the movies. See you then.

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