Sundance: Cold and Awesome!

Where can you ski, watch great new movies and feel up Adrian Grenier and Ricki Lake? (More on that later.) Sundance, baby! Best described as “cold and awesome,” Park City, Utah, in January is all about the Sundance Film Festival. I dropped in last week for a few days of tomfoolery in the mountains, and had a ball. I can’t tell you who won what jury prize (I left before all that stuff happened), but I can tell you that between the beautiful scenery and the beautiful people, this is one trip I’d love to take again.

So I didn’t ski—not out of some twisted belief that Black folks don’t ski (Howard students took a huge ski trip every year, thank you) but because I’m not fond of the cold. But a few of my friends did, and all they could talk about was the amazing powder, and how it beat skiing in Colorado hands down. Whatever.

I did see a couple films, though. There was a short from The Creative Coalition, which set the stage for the feature-length Barry Levinson-directed documentary that they (with funding from pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline; full disclosure: I flew to Utah on their dime) will produce for release next year. It will explore the obesity epidemic in America, examining why 2/3 of adults are overweight or obese, and advocating for policy changes that will help stem the fat tide. Ricki Lake then moderated a panel discussion following the screening. It was while interviewing her that I felt her up. No really, she’s been doing some new badass workout and made me squeeze her thigh to prove to everyone in the green room that it was tight (it was like steel).

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But the film that really got me going was 8: The Mormon Proposition, which explored how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints put Proposition 8 on the ballot in California, and then rallied its membership to spend until it hurt to get it passed. It followed the fascinating story of Tyler Barrick and Spencer Jones, a Mormon couple who married in California on the first day that same-sex marriages were allowed, only to have their joy stomped on when the proposition was announced. The film highlighted the irony of a church whose own marriage practices have been much maligned seeking to limit the marriage rights of others. This screening was all the more interesting for the 45-minute discussion with the directors and the cast that followed—and the fact that we were watching it in the heart of Mormon country didn’t hurt. Check out the trailer and go see when it gets picked up.

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Then there was the celeb-spotting. There was a pop-up Tao on Main Street where the stars hung out, and we stopped by a couple times. John Legend sat on a banquette and looked bored, and super-producer Harvey Weinstein was there two nights in a row. While walking the streets and sitting in screenings, we spotted supermodel Rachel Hunter, Adrien Brody, Michael Chiklis, Naomi Watts, Wilmer Valderama, Tom Arnold, Tim Daly, Bob Saget, Jill Zarin (if you count reality show “stars” as stars), Olivia Munn, KayCee Stroh and others. But the coup was the fineness that is Adrian Grenier. If I were delusional, I would swear he was stalking my group; we saw him at Tao, on Main Street, and at dinner on our last night. On the first night, I found myself standing next to him in Tao, and seized the opportunity to touch him, shoulder to shoulder. He turned and said, “Hey!” which made my night. (Yes, I’m a groupie.)

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For more on what actually happened with the films at the SFF, check out the website.


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