HERE! @ SUNDANCE

Report 1:  Opening Nights and Happy Endings!
THURSDAY JANUARY 20, 2005

   
   
   
   

At 4AM Thursday morning the here! team piled into cars, shuttles, and vans bound for Los Angeles International Airport and the Sundance Film Festival.  Miraculously, we boarded our 7AM flight on time, and flew to Salt Lake City, only to circle the airport three times and be diverted to Las Vegas. As we headed back west, the spirits of all young filmmakers, thirty-something agents, and eager film fans aboard were temporarily dashed by a rousing case of “Ice Fog.”

Networking between film fest folks all bound for the “dance” was fast and furious on the plane. After refueling, we were all ready to leave Las Vegas when an agent trying to get scripts back into his bag in the overhead compartment delayed takeoff. After knocking out all cell phone and satellite service in the greater Vegas area, we flew back to Salt Lake City and were one of the last flights to land before the airport was closed again due to bad weather.

Six hours after departing Los Angeles, we watched as half of our baggage arrived on the carousel. We then raced off to Park City, eager to finally arrive at the 21st Annual Sundance Film Festival. After getting our credentials in order, our lovely host Michelle Wolff ran off with the crew to cover the opening night film HAPPY ENDINGS, directed by acclaimed helmer Don Roos at the spectacular Eccles Theatre, which was temporarily without power.  As generators were brought to the rescue, stars Lisa Kudrow, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jesse Bradford, Jason Ritter, and Tom Arnold all stopped to chat with here! as they made their way down the red carpet to the elegant premiere.

   
   
   
   

Every celebrity walking the pressline stopped to chat with the here! crew as they arrived at the opening night gala.  The stars of HAPPY ENDINGS all spoke about the exhilarating experience of making the film and working with Don Roos (BOYS ON THE SIDE, THE OPPOSITE OF SEX).  The cast is composed of veteran darlings of Sundance and the indie film scene, as well as rising young stars thrilled to be at their first Sundance premiere.  We were all bowled over by the friendly vibe coming off the red carpet, with no attitude or posturing to be found at 6,000 feet.

Don Roos talked about how his film aimed to break down some of the myths of American life.  Maggie G. looked cute as always, but seemed a bit chilly without a coat. Tom Arnold was gracious and jovial, and Roos veteran Lisa Kudrow talked about how she was not into the Sundance party scene, preferring instead to grab dinner with friends every night and hoping to catch as many films as possible.

After the premiere, we raided the local supermarket, and networked with other industry folks in town to cover the fest, as the dairy section quickly became a hotbed of schmoozing. Armed with low-alcohol beer and fresh fruit we ventured forth to our condo for a quick dinner.

Afterwards, here!’s dashing Publicity VP, Stephen Macias, left the condo at midnight for an elegant late-night soiree, coping with his new hair product, forged from melted snow and deer droppings (see lost luggage above). The hearty lesbians forged on, content to recharge our cell phones and catch up on our needlepoint and sleep.

   
   
   
   

The first evening was capped by an exclusive first look at Debbie Harry’s new short film HONEY TRAP at one of Park City’s most elaborate homes. The evening was a virtual who’s who of independent film including Paramount Classics execs Joe Matukewicz and  Ruth Vitale, LA Outfest’s Stephen Gutwillig and John Finco, New York’s Newfest  Executive Director Basil Tosikas, Lindsay Crane of United Artists, and Ray Strache of Fox Searchlight, along with a handful of film fest directors from around the world.  HONEY TRAP was greeted with a warm reception under the moonlit sky, as the snow blanketing the peaks above emitted a glorious glow at an amazing venue. Swag bags flowed out with the VIP guests as they climbed into shuttles with handsome locals making sure that all visiting Sundance attendees were well taken care of.

The first night ended with everyone taking a deep breath in anticipation of the impending craze of 10 days filled with parties, premieres and cinematic discoveries.  The here! team will be based at the fabulous Queer Lounge, returning for an encore performance after its smash debut last year. 

Look out for new columns appearing every day of the festival, along with exclusive here! @ Sundance videos. Stay tuned right here! for all the news, gossip and queer happenings from Sundance. 

here! is America’s first gay and lesbian premium television network, available nationwide on DIRECTV channel 190 and DISH Network channel 537, as well as cable systems across the country.   Call your cable or satellite provider and ask for here!.  Sign up to receive regular here! updates at heretv.com.

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