December is the heart of Oscar season, yet by the time we finally see who wins the trophies on March 2, we will have heard the nominees answer the same red-carpet questions and tell the same late-night television anecdotes — about process and weight loss and legacy, etc — that we’ll practically be able to write the winners’ acceptance speeches for them. It’s refreshing, then, that right in the middle of this circus will be the Sundance Film Festival.
Every January, in Park City, Utah, a fresh crop of movies is unveiled at independent film’s grandest showcase. What separates Sundance from other prestigious festivals, say Toronto or Cannes, is that it specializes in that your-life-will-never-be-the-same moment. From the day Steven Soderbergh screened sex, lies and videotape in 1989 to the standing ovation Ryan Coogler received earlier this year for Fruitvale Station, Sundance is the place where dreams come true. To be there when it happens, to see filmmakers and actors engaging with appreciative audiences who are watching their work for the first time, is one of the best things about the business. “I haven’t been in a movie before, so everything is so Entourage,” said Gabourey Sidibe, when Precious premiered at Sundance in 2009. “We’re walking up Main Street and everyone’s like, ‘You were so wonderful.’ ‘Oh, I can’t wait to see your movie.’ Oh my God. That is sooooo Entourage.”
How can you not love that?
And it’s not just the rags-to-riches stories that make Sundance such a special place. When talent comes to Sundance — be they no-names or Oscar-winners — their well-rehearsed pat answers simply haven’t taken shape yet. Sundance is the first time they’re meeting the press for their project and they aren’t always 100 percent prepared — which is a wonderful thing. Stay out of his own way, and a journalist might even enjoy a spontaneous, human conversation with some amazing artist who is just as excited to share what went into the process of creating their art. Sometimes, if the spirit moves them, they might have have an impromptu dance party, like Sidibe and her Precious co-stars did at the EW Studio. READ FULL STORY