Partying Shots:
NY Press Nightclubbing Column #7 with Sundance

by Tony Phillips

Picture it: after an iced-in Salt Lake City makes for hours of airport delay, a white knuckled van ride up the mountain across said ice to Park City, Utah, follows. Those not savvy enough to arrive a day early to give their body a chance to adjust to the elevation are also suffering from all the hangover meets asthma fun of altitude sickness. And now, all these merry makers are jammed, sardine-like, in a line outside braced up by the sub-zero mountain air.

Welcome to the opening night of the Sundance Film Festival. Once past the Checkpoint Charlie and into the Deer Valley ski lodge where this joint is being held, I split with my guests. They are off to cash in their two measly drink tickets, which come attached to a Sundance-logoed hospital bracelet (if only), while I’m off in search of the “Todd Oldham décor” the press release promised.

I eventually give up and cash in my drink chits as well, sitting down with my two cocktails, I tumble off the back of a foam cube covered in fabric ala Mr. Rush in the open for Too Close For Comfort as my drinks fly across the room. I realize this dorm room beautification project I just plummeted from is the “Todd Oldham décor” and that this isn’t a party anyone is going to be talking about 20-years from now. I won’t even get into the endless cheese wheel.

But if Sundance was not exactly crawling with hot parties this year, it was crawling with savoir-faire as programmers from New York snapped up films for their festivals back home. Party ideas to accompany those films were thankfully left in Park City. First up, there was the Gen Art Film Festival, which just wrapped last week. With their tagline of “7 premieres & 7 parties,” Gen Art doesn’t even pretend it’s about the programming, but their parties rock, in an offhand, casual way.

Take Thursday night’s bash for their grand jury prize-winner for best feature entitled Wristcutters at B.E.D. Shea Whigham, who stars in the film, is currently shooting the NYC police drama Pride and Glory with co-star Colin Farrell, so he simply dragged Farrell out on the town with him. And though he was squirreled behind a fairly crashable velvet rope, many of the Gen Art partygoers were just as casual about his attendance. Witness this exchange: “Hey, there’s Colin Farrell! Who cares, how much longer is the open bar? Dunno, let’s ask Colin!”

A newish festival that also seems to plan their accompanying events much more carefully than their film programming is the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival. And this year, they’re no longer confined to Tribeca, with screenings and events all over town. This festival, no doubt due to the caliber of its founders, Bob and Jane, and their post-9/11 mission, tends to be a little corporate, velvet-roped and just generally gross.

This puts Dan Klores publicist Michael Barclay in an interesting position. He’s bringing Adam Green’s slasher homage Hatchet to the midnight section of this festival and needs to come up with an event that will make it stand out against the earnest 9/11 docs and big-budget summer disaster previews like Poseidon. Michael’s come up the new club opening that week from Nur Khan, the man who brought us Hiro under the Maritime Hotel. No telling whether a posh new venue will be enough to overcome the bad taste factor of the hatchet-wielding swamp thing amuck in New Orleans, but we kind of have our fingers crossed for the breakout potential of any movie billing itself as “boobs, beer, beads and blood.”

Even Sundance gets a chance to pull it out of the muck when they cherry pick ten-days of this year’s finest for screenings at BAM’s Rose Cinemas that kick off on May 11. Opening night is the buzzed about pre-teen beauty pageant ensemble comedy Little Miss Sunshine and Grey Goose and Brooklyn Brewery signing on as “Official Providers” might just make us forget those awful, two-drink minimum hospital bracelets in Park City.