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By Chris Gore | January 25, 1999

We came, we saw, we waited in really long lines and still didn’t get in. But did that stop us? No! The Film Threat staff presents these film reviews and happenings direct from Park City.
[ THE PARTIES ] : ^ First there was the “Slipping Down Life” party with lots of free drinks and a cool band to boot. The “SLC Punks” party featured the tunes of the Violent Femmes and a tough guest list. Since Gore’s list of party-crashing lines had made the rounds, we had to come up with a few new ones. This surefire line worked everytime when confronted with a tough door person. Just walk quickly into the party and when confronted by security, yell: ^
“I’m one of the producers!”
Then glare at the door person. Guaranteed entry.
The opening night Slamdance party was THE place to be on Saturday night with a jammin’ DJ and the best-looking women in Park City. (Hot pants in the winter? That vinyl must sure get cold. Now those women are dedicated to looking hot.) What might have been a fun bash on Saturday was the party. It started out with a great spread of food and the anticipation of seeing the “Bacon Brothers” perform. (You know, Kevin Bacon and his brother who sing country music. Yeah, we know.) Anyways, as we approached the bar when we were confronted with the two most frightening words a journalist can hear: [ “CASH BAR!” ]
Aaaaaaah! Talk about the most horrible festival party faux pas you could possibly make!! Now, onto the films when at times we heard the four most frightening words for a journalist: Running Time, 180 minutes.
AMERICAN MOVIE ^ * * * * 1/2 ^ Documentary filmmaker Chris Smith follows up his 1996 Sundance Film “American Job” with another mid-western story, this time entitled “American Movie”, and the results are one of the most engaging documentaries to come out of Sundance in years.
The subject of this “behind-the scenes” documentary is full time paperboy and part time filmmaker Mark Borchardt, a charismatic white-trash twenty-something horror movie fan who is hell-bent on making his first horror feature entitled “Northwestern”. The documentary follows two years in Mark’s life as he raises funds from his father and trailer park uncle. Faced with absolutely no money and lots of drive, Mark is a one-man show. He’s a writer-producer-director-actor-editor-cinematographer and just about everything else. His friends are (all drug addicts, alcoholics, and ex-cons) are his crew, but they mostly just flake on Mark in his time of need.
Chris Smith is excellent at always getting his camera in the right place at the right time. He captures Mark’s hopes and realities so perfectly that you can’t help but fall in love with this train wreck in the making. Mark’s ex-wife is threatening to take away his three kids. Credit card companies and the IRS are knocking on his door for money, and yet Mark is so focused on making any film that when he can’t afford to finish “Northwestern”, he decides to finish one of his many abandon short films entitled “Coven”.
The documentary is never condescending to Mark and his friends, and Mark’s passion and motor mouth can persuade anyone to do anything. Through all of Mark’s inexperience, (including one scene where he jams an actor’s head through a cabinet door before checking to see if it’s breakaway wood), you feel Marks’ love of movies and desire to complete his opus. Mark truly is an independent filmmaker, and he’s also the one person in this dead-end town that has a goal and a dream to express himself in a way out side of a Coors Light. If you like movies, you must see “American Movie.”

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