Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sundance: Down on Main Street

[Film Fest] There's no real need for me to be on Main Street. My movie-watching action revolves almost exclusively around the press screening venues at the Yarrow Hotel and Holiday Theater, and getting here – even by shuttle – takes too long with the crush of traffic.

Yet here I am, because it’s hard not to find the environment perversely fascinating. Main Street becomes a people-watching hub, with its various “swag lounges” (corporate-sponsored getaway spots for people more famous than you) and clubs and restaurants hosting evening parties. Photographers swarm around places where celebrities are suspected to be, and passersby in turn swarm around the photographers, in a sort of paparazzi/rubbernecker perfect storm of starfucking. And maybe you’ll pass by someone, and do a double-take, thinking, “Could Jennifer Aniston really be that short?”

Maybe after 11 festivals I’m a bit more inoculated against the celebrity thing. Not 30 minutes ago, I strolled past Michael Keaton in the lobby of the festival headquarters at the Park City Marriott. He’s surprisingly short, too, but other than noting his lack of verticality, it never occurred to me to do anything but keep walking. I’m not saying that makes me better than someone who might have whipped out a camera-phone. In fact, it probably makes that person better than me, because I don’t even own a camera-phone. I’m just saying that celebrity-spotting here starts to lose its unique fascination after a while. They’re here, they’re in movies, get used to it.

Main Street is also noteworthy for sheer geography. There are too many people trying to navigate sidewalks already choked with the cholesterol of packed snow, they’re lugging around laptops/swag-bags/obscenely over-furred parkas, they’re walking uphill, and the air is thin. And this is during the day, before the sun’s early descent behind the mountains and storefronts makes the temperature drop into something usually associated with Lambeau Field. This is funny on so many levels it probably circles back around to tragic again. And then probably back to gut-bustingly hilarious.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to lug my laptop back down the street and see what other famous person is small enough to fit into my bag. (Scott Renshaw)

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