Sundance 2014: Tribute To the People that Make Festivals Unforgettable
by Alex Billington
January 25, 2014
The festival is winding down, people are heading home, it's nearing the end... The 2014 Sundance Film Festival is almost over and even though I'm just departing today, I am already starting to get nostalgic. I love this festival, I love attending festivals, and although I'm very tired, I don't want to leave, I don't want it to end. On top of all the films and all the excitement around independent cinema, it's the people that make my festival experience so amazing, so unforgettable, every year. My friends (old and new), my colleagues, the volunteers, the staff, the publicists, the filmmakers, the locals, I owe them all so much for being the best.
Having attended film festivals all over the world for eight years straight, I've learned that the people are just as important as the films. The festivals bring us together, allow us to rally around this passion that we all have, and revel in the glory with the kind of cinema that makes us feel emotions. I've realized that festivals would not be the same without these people, without my friends, without my colleagues that challenge me to think deeper, and take risks, seek out films that I might not have thought to consider before. Not only do I get to spend plenty of time with friends, but I meet new friends, and catch up with old acquaintances. This was best summed up by my friend Ryland Aldrich of Twitch who wrote this note on Twitter after he left:
But as always, the highlight of #Sundance is seeing films with good friends, getting to know some friends better, and meeting new ones too.
— Ryland Aldrich (@RylandAldrich) January 23, 2014
Sundance is one of those festivals that puts all of us on the same platform, and reminds all of us that we're all here for the same reason - to see films. And to discuss them. Finally we're all in one place again - my pals from Los Angeles, the people I somehow don't see much of in New York, my writer Ethan from Indiana, the good folks from Austin, acquaintances from all over the world. It's not just these people, but it's all the other attendees: locals from all over Utah, film lovers from all over the world, the volunteers who work for free in the name of cinema, the publicists and filmmakers here to make an impact. I love ending up in chats in theaters, in the lines, on the bus, at restaurants with any of these people. No matter how old, no matter where they come from, they reaffirm that a love for independent and innovative cinema is still very strong.
Over the last seven years I've been attending Sundance I've been rooming with various friends. For the first three to four years, I was part of the infamous "blogger condo", where the likes of Neil from Film School Rejects, Peter from SlashFilm, and Chase and Rusty from Gordon and the Whale would also reside. Eight of us crammed into a place that really only slept five, forcing us all to become even better friends, and in the process making us reflect upon ourselves. Yes, we would have fights, yes we would disagree about films, yes someone would eat someone else's food, but in the end we all gave each other hugs when the fest was over.
On the more practical side of things, friends are very useful and very important at Sundance: they save seats for you when you're running late, they help you get tickets when you really need one, they grab food for you when you're on the run, they sit next to you when you don't watch to watch a film alone, they'll argue with you about the best and the worst of the fest because they have the same fiery cinephile passion deep down inside. I think it's this kind of friendship that inspires others to attend the festival, in addition to all of the films. I've sat through many films alone, but they always seem a bit better when I'm sitting with a friend, or any of my colleagues. And I always have a smile on my face when I catch up with old pals. Like these three:
Over the last few years our condo has evolved and changed hands. Now the unofficial "blogger condo" is in the hands of my good friend Jordan Raup of The Film Stage, who joins with roughly seven others (including a few other The Film Stage writers) in a quaint lil' place. This year my roommates were Jordan Hoffman (@jhoffman) and Matt Patches (@misterpatches). It's not the same condo as it once was, but nonetheless a great group of guys that I'm happy to spend time around, encountering them early in the morning, arguing about what we liked or didn't like, and why, late into the night. I wouldn't have it any other way. It wouldn't be Sundance and it wouldn't be this wonderful if I wasn't around so many good people, so many fun friends.
This is my tribute to all of them. My commentary on how much they mean to me, even if they don't know it. Even those who I might not be on the best of terms with, they're part of my experience at this festival, too. Everyone is; every last attendee, volunteer, staff member, filmmaker, film lover / moviegoer - this is what Sundance is all about. Thank you all for making my film festival what it is. Thank you for loving films as much as I do and encouraging me to love them even more. As one final thanks, I have to mention everyone that left an impression and will forever remain in my Sundance 2014 memories. Follow all of these people:
Eric Lavallee from IONCinema - @ioncinema
Peter Sciretta from SlashFilm - @slashfilm
Raffi Asdourian from The Film Stage - @zaffi
Jordan Hoffman from Film.com - @JHoffman6
Matt Patches from Vanity Fair - @misterpatches
Ryland Aldrich from Twitch - @RylandAldrich
Germain Lussier from SlashFilm - @GermainLussier
Jordan Raup from The Film Stage - @jpraup
Dan Mecca from The Film Stage - @djmecca
Cory Everett from The Playlist - @modage
Marco Cerritos from Hypable - @BigDumbMale
Mike Ryan from Huffington Post - @mikeryan
Kate Erbland from Film.com - @katerbland
Erik Davis from Movies.com - @ErikDavis
Jordan Smith from IONCinema - @Rectangular_Eye
Eric Vespe from AICN - @EricVespe
Aaron Morgan - @Aaron_Morgan
Jeff Sneider from The Wrap - @TheInSneider
Jeff Goldsmith from Backstory - @yogoldsmith
Eric D. Snider - @EricDSnider
Russ Fischer from SlashFilm - @russfischer
Will Goss from MSN - @williambgoss
James Rocchi - @jamesrocchi
Chase Whale - @ChaseWhale
Steve Weintraub from Collider - @colliderfrosty
Press ticket master + Volunteer of the Year winner Greg in the Press Office, as well as Jason Guerrasio, Emily Lu, Morgan Ressa, Adam Kersh, Jonathan Epstein, Chelsea Christer and Dor Dotson.
Thank you, every last one of you, and thank you to anyone else who I might have forgotten or met along the way. All of you are awesome. Now it's time to end another year at Sundance, but I certainly won't forget the films, the time we spent together (even if it was brief), the discussions, the screenings, and everything else that made this film festival so amazing. I'll be back here next year, as always, and I hope all of you will, too.