Sundance 2020: Day 8

Festival Director James McNally is attending this year’s Sundance Film Festival from January 21st to February 2nd.

Festival Day 6

Today was our last big day of the festival, with our final two premieres and the Shorts Awards party. I went to HQ at 10:00am to pick up a ride to Temple, where Shorts Program 2 was premiering at noon. The reality of it being our final two premieres really began to kick in for our team and since we’d already hosted these filmmakers at their first screenings at Redstone, it was pretty easy to recognize them as they arrived. He’s The One writer/director/actor Jessie Kahnweiler arrived in a dirndl and when I didn’t bat an eye, asked me if I was going to say anything about her dress. I did not. But she was fun and friendly and the whole crew of filmmakers seemed very comfortable with each other, making the premiere pretty easy for us. And I finally got to tell the filmmakers of Arabian Alien how much I enjoyed their film.

Shorts Program 3 directly followed and it was nice to see some of those filmmakers in attendance at each other’s screenings. The team from The Devil’s Harmony brought some interesting swag. Tins that contained earplugs (or sometimes mints) tied in to the film’s plot line really well. After the last premiere, our team (Terry, me, Drew, Bryan) took a photo in front of the step and repeat with Doreen, our festival publicist, and then headed back to HQ.

After a few hours break (where I came home and napped for an hour), it was back to HQ to pick up our ride out to Jupiter Newpark (the former Jupiter Bowl bowling alley) for the shorts awards party. Our team of liaisons and volunteers worked outside at the “resolution desk” handing out tickets to any who forgot or lost them. Drew and Terry went in after about an hour to help guide the winning filmmakers on and off stage an into the VIP room (champagne!) after their wins. Bryan and I had to stay out for about another hour. I finally got inside just as the awards were beginning, and was finally able to take off my headset and enjoy the party.

The following awards were presented by the jury: Marcus Hu, Sian Clifford, and Cindy Sherman:

  • Short Film Grand Jury PrizeSo What If The Goats Die (Dir: Sofia Alaoui)
  • Short Film Jury Award: US Fiction-Ship: A Visual Poem (Dir: Terence Daye)
  • Short Film Jury Award: International FictionThe Devil’s Harmony (Dir: Dylan Holmes Williams)
  • Short Film Jury Award: Non-FictionJohn Was Trying To Contact Aliens (Dir: Matthew Killip)
  • Short Film Jury Award: AnimationDaughter (Dir: Daria Kascheeva)
  • Short Film Special Jury Award for Acting – Sadaf Asgari in Exam (Dir: Sonia K. Hadad)
  • Short Film Special Jury Award for DirectingValerio’s Day Out (Dir: Michael Arcos)

I got to meet and talk with a lot of interesting people, both people I knew and some complete strangers. I spotted Dallas International Film Festival’s James Faust along with Calgary Underground Film Festival programmer Brennan Tilley and we took a selfie together (above). Later, I found myself chatting with Cecilia Delgado, editor for both Meats and Dirty. She was driving alone back to New York City the next morning. I also spoke to producer Kate Chamuris, who was here with Blocks, and had a longer conversation with Eli‘s Nate Wilson. Toward the end of the party, I chatted with Marie-Pier Lacroix Couture from Travelling Distribution and Alexandre Dostie (of Travelling as well as here with his own film I’ll End Up in Jail). I’m hoping to receive some films from them for our third festival coming up in November. I also spoke to head shorts programmer Mike Plante about hopefully helping out with some shorts screening for Sundance next year. Fingers crossed.

I left the party just before 1am and caught a couple of shuttles that brought me to the Main Street transit hub around 1:45am. Instead of waiting for a bus to Deer Valley that likely wouldn’t arrive, I just walked and was back in my condo by 2am. But wired from all the conversations and the leftover adrenaline from working so many long days, I didn’t get to sleep until around 3am.