The Film Threat team descended on Park City, Utah in January to attend the Sundance Film Festival and most of the members of this group of new mutants, so to speak, returned unscathed. Film Threat fought to bring you reviews, coverage of the party scene and some perspective on this massive celebration of groundbreaking films and exciting new voices in cinema. Led by Film Threat publisher and festival veteran Chris Gore, this new crop of writers battled the cold and their own anxieties to navigate the biggest festival event of the year. Here’s what they saw… (and in some cases, what they drank.)
Anthony Ray Bench
Years attending Sundance: First year.
Fave Sundance 2018 Film: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Best Party: Haha, I only went to one party and it was ours. The Film Threat Party at Legion M Lounge/ Red Banjo Pizza was f*****g awesome. They had two drinks named after us, and I had a s**t ton of them. It was cool just hanging out, drinking, and eating pizza with a bunch of cool people. No f*****g yuppies harshing my buzz and s**t.
Best Party I Crashed: I stumbled into some weird private event at a restaurant I don’t remember the name of. It took them awhile to realize I wasn’t with them. I had three free drinks then they threw me out. Jokes on them, they didn’t even give me a chance to tip.
Tales from the Film Threat Condo: I slept on the f*****g floor on a mattress that looked like an inflatable pool toy. For one glorious night I took over the master bedroom. It was amazing. I got to soak in the luxury tub. It had jets…wonderful, wonderful jets.
Best Sundance Post-Screening Experiences: Bad Reputation. Joan Jett was there in person. It wasn’t particularly insightful, but Joan Jett was hilarious. It was so cool being in such close proximity of such a kick a*s music legend. Private Life was my first Sundance Film, and even though I only thought it was just okay, it was still an incredibly important and special moment for me. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? received a standing ovation. I’d say Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind came in as a close second. The audiences at Sundance are much more respectful and engaged with the experience. Aside from one screening, everyone was respectful, and no one was disruptive. People at Sundance genuinely love films, and they wait out in the cold and snow just to see something you might not get to see at your local theater. No one I was around took that for granted.
Most Surprising Thing About Sundance 2018: The staff was amazing. I was really taken aback by how helpful they all were. No one was rude, and everyone knew what they were talking about. San Diego Comic-Con could learn a billion things from the volunteers at Sundance.
— Film Threat (@FilmThreat) January 30, 2018
Years Attending Sundance: 15
Best Party: I can’t mention our Film Threat party with Legion M as that would not be fair, but the two that stand out where the Texas and Kentucky parties. Both events gathered film community folks from those respective states and it was an opportunity for me to reconnect with old friends from the festival world including James Faust and Michael Caine. Producer Gill Holland was an amazing host for the Kentucky gathering. Gill told me that I could buy a house in Kentucky for just $35 grand and that I should consider relocating there. (And I’m seriously thinking about it. California cost of living is insane now.)
A close runner up was the party to celebrate the Sundance premiere of American Animals held at the Grey Goose Lounge had a really cool vibe and served popular vodka-based drinks. (Moscow Mule is a personal fave.) I had a memorable chat with actor Evan Peters about American Horror Story and X-Men. Peters is one to watch as it amazes me how he just goes for it, no matter what.
Best Party I Crashed: Movie Pass had this amazing party at some decadent mansion that had an elevator. I haven’t been to many houses that have an elevator, but I can see the advantages. They even had a step and repeat and free hats, but no free Movie Passes, unfortunately. And they shut it down before midnight, which was a disappointment, but the photo booth was a lot of fun.
Best Celebrity Sighting: Terry Crewes was spotted walking down Main Street and someone could be heard screaming after him, “President Camacho!”
Best Celebrity Conversation: Talking to movie geek and legend Leonard Maltin was a total treat as I reminded him about a conversation we had after a screening of Magnolia. (We both agreed that Magnolia would have benefitted from an intermission. We then proceeded to debate about the last film to have an intermission. We figured out that Gandhi from 1984 was the last film with a major theatrical release to include an intermission.)
Best Sundance Post-Screening Experiences: The documentary Hal post-screening Q&A was a lovefest for a forgotten era of great American filmmaking. Hal Ashby is an enigmatic director worthy of a doc (his filmography includes Harold & Maude, Being There, Shampoo) and the entire team who worked on the film all worked to make a great film rather than meet a deadline. And I might’ve teared up a few times during the film.
Tales from the Film Threat Condo: Since I’ve slept on kitchen floors in the early days of going to Sundance, a bed with blankets is a luxury. But I was effectively “Team Mom” trying to keep everyone focused on going to movies and getting coverage here on the site so that I could go to parties. And go see movies!
Most Surprising Thing About Sundance 2018: I go to Sundance for creative inspiration and feel so fortunate for all the times I’ve been able to attend. Some years when I’m working, I never get to see movies. So it was refreshing to have a good mix of seeing films, going to parties in the evening and reconnecting with old friends. And the volunteers were so helpful, better than ever.
We cut out the boring parts. A quick look at our coverage and some of our experiences in Park City during the Sundance Film Festival. #Sundance #Sundance2018 #SundanceFilmFestival #FilmThreatSundance pic.twitter.com/h8PYu4EqUz
— Film Threat (@FilmThreat) January 30, 2018
Years Attending Sundance: First year.
Fave Sundance 2018 Film: Wildlife
Best Party: Only went to the Film Threat party. Good pizza and drinks!
Tales from the Film Threat Condo: We all had a place to catch a quick “nap” at night in between movies. Sleep is optional.
Best Sundance Post-Screening Experiences: The cast and crew of a film called A Boy. A Girl. A Dream. Evoked the most passion from the filmmaking team and the audience. The opening night film, Private Life, brought a great energy to the Eccles that comes with an opening night film. The entire audience was excited to be at Sundance at that was palpable before the screening started. Also, the crowd at A Boy. A Girl. A Dream was excited to watch this small passion project about two people finding love one night in Los Angeles. I’ve been to many film festivals and they produce the best audiences. Anyone can go to a movie on any given night in their hometown but people who come together at festivals are there to celebrate film. This feels heightened at Sundance, which is a community of film lovers, plain and simple.
Best Quote from a Q&A: “I dyed my hair orange and didn’t really know what was happening” Aubrey Plaza describing her prep for An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn.
Most Surprising Thing About Sundance 2018: I was able to stay up for a 9:30PM movie after seeing five before that. Five! That’s a first for me! Sundance provides an adrenaline rush like no other film festival. Can’t wait for 2019.
Years attending Sundance: One. Well, technically two, but my first time I was only there a few days. I was also 19 years old and looked about 15, so sneaking into events was doubly difficult.
Fave Sundance 2018 Film: Madeline’s Madeline
Best Party: The Blacklist party for I Think We’re Alone Now. It was held in a semi-hidden ballroom at the Hotel Park City which is only accessible via the parking garage. Also Cinetic (at High West Saloon) because they always know how to get people dancing.
Best Party I Crashed: Oculus’ joint party with Facebook (or Instagram or something). Held at Coal & Lumber. Great food.
Tales from the Condo: Shared a bed with a friend in an Airbnb where a bunch of other Sundance visitors were also staying. (Natalia dodged a bullet and did not stay at the Film Threat condo.)
Best Sundance Post-Screening Experiences: Miranda July after Madeline’s Madeline because everything July says is brilliant and hilarious. Also, my best friend Dani Girdwood expressing gratitude for her longtime mentor and friend Reed Morano during the I Think We’re Alone Now premiere Q&A. Dani was onstage with a slew of the cast and crew when an audience member randomly directed a question at “the girl in the white pants.”
Most Surprising Thing About Sundance 2018: How tight-knit the community is. Sundance felt like being on a giant school ski trip with everyone you’ve ever met/seen/stalked in the film industry. Met a bunch of new friends whom I can’t wait to see around the festival circuit moving forward.
— Film Threat (@FilmThreat) January 27, 2018
T. Anthony Schear
Years Attending Sundance: 3
Fave Sundance 2018 Film: Sorry To Bother You
Best Party: Film Threat Party! One-of-a-kind Film Threat-inis (raspberry & blueberry). So many losers. It sucked!
Best Party I Crashed: I briefly met Aubrey Plaza at the Philly party because my friend saved her from a cult of nuns that grow weed in Merced, CA.
Tales from the Condo: I slept in a sleeping bag behind a couch in a basement and cleaned the kitchen to pay my way. Can’t complain, it was free.
Best Sundance Post-Screening Experiences: Got my own private Q&A with Lauren Greenfield, she’s brilliant and her new documentary is a must-watch.
Babis Makridis, Director of Pity, realized when he was a teenager that being sad got him attention from girls. His new film takes that idea to the extreme.
The most transcendent moment of the festival was a VR experience where five people interact in a virtual space together. Represented by one of five random avatars, you can talk to each other and even touch each other while your surroundings change, giving you a peak at what our future Matrix-inspired existence might feel like.
The Rock Steady Row crowd was really loving itself.
What makes a Sundance screening different than other screenings? You have to wait 30-minutes in the freezing cold. And the PR company for An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn said they would be giving out free weed but they didn’t.
Most Surprising Thing About Sundance 2018: My number one goal was to get on Caveh Zahedi’s The Show About The Show, and I think I succeeded!