the traveler's resource guide to festivals & films
a site
part of Insider Media llc.

Connect with us:

Eric Lurio

On The Park City Trail... Sundance 2010 and more: Jan. 21

A blizzard at a ski resort shouldn't surprise anyone, much less me, but there it was right outside the window — damn! This weather dominated the rest of the day. It was easy getting the Sundance credentials this year, which was nice. However, finding an electric plug in this digital age was a lot harder; they moved the café to a place where there isn’t any, so getting a cup of coffee and blogging has gotten a lot harder. 

At a distance, Robert Redford at the opening press conferenceAfter leaving the Festival headquarters at the Marriott, it was off to Main Street to get my creds at Slamdance, which has always been a pleasure. I thought that more would be going on today, but most of the events are scheduled for tomorrow so I decided to head downhill and nearly broke my neck in the slush about two dozen times.

Nothing was open.

That wasn't exactly true, but the various things that were festival-related were in the processes of construction, and people said that they would be ready by tomorrow morning 10 a.m. Perhaps that’s the case, but it's still a disappointment.

The snow kept on coming down, I couldn’t find a bus, and the only plug which fit my computer at the hotel was in use, so I headed back to Main Street for the free lunch.

The New Frontiers exhibit hall never has great art, but they have good food, and the buffet was excellent. This was the place where the press gets to see how many people are actually going to show up on time. Robert Redford and Festival Director John Cooper were having the annual press conference at the Egyptian Theater across the street.

The place was packed. The highlight of the show was Redford’s discussion of a film on notorious paparazzo Ron Gallella, who victimized Redford on a number of occasions back in the day. He and Cooper also fielded questions on some of the more controversial films, such as one on the Mormons and the gay marriage proposition in California a year ago. Cooper’s a Mormon, and he said that it was the quality of the film that counted and the festival had no opinion on the matter.

There are no press screenings today, but there are a few public ones, so now I’ll head off to see if I could get on the waiting list for one. Its not as easy as one might think….

On the Park City Trail... Sundance 2010 and more: Jan. 20

For the next couple of weeks, I will be running around Park City, Utah, attending screenings and events having to do with the Sundance, Slamdance and other film festivals, which traditionally take place there at this time of year.

Notice I didn’t say “here.” The reason is that I’m not in Park City yet, I’m in the Denver International Airport, where I’m sitting on the floor and being ticked off at Frontier Airlines, who, in order to serve their customers better and show their appreciation of them, have started charging $100 to people who would, on every other airline, have gotten on free as standby passengers on an earlier flight, if available.

So, here I sit for four hours. Fortunately, they have free Wi-Fi here in the airport. Unfortunately, there aren’t any place to plug in in any of the restaurants, and so I have to sit on the hard ground and dream of food while my computer recharges.

I shouldn’t have any problem with my credentials this year (I once had in a previous year--but that was with another outlet, enough said), but I’m not all that optimistic I can breeze in and get the with ease. I won’t get to my hotel until after the office closes which means that I won’t be able to pick it up until the morning when everybody and his sister is going to be there.

So I guess I’ll go to Main Street and have a drink. There’s been a revolution: They’ve legalized bars in Utah!

Back in the day -- about a year ago -- the only way you could get a drink by the glass was to join a private club, getting a card and everything. Apparently they checked.

But no more, the bars have been liberated and soon the thousands of people who descend on Park City are going to use them. I haven’t checked yet, but from what I’ve heard, every restaurant on Main St. has at least applied for a liquor license.

That’s going to change the nature of the festival a bit, it’s going to get rowdier, and that’s a good thing. Good for the partygoers, and good for Park City. They get a good chunk of their annual income from the ‘dances, and the more income the better.

I’m going to start actually seeing movies tomorrow, and then the fun really begins…

Race for the Oscars®: Best Animated Short Subject, the Semifinals

The Awards Season officially begins in December. The question of who’s going to get the golden trophy, regarOscar Statuedless of it’s being a Golden Globe or an Oscar® or something totally different in the early months of 2010 is not only good fun for us fans but a deadly earnest endeavor for the movie companies. There are millions of dollars at stake, after all, and the big contenders will get a limited release for a brief time this month before going wide in January, thus giving the impression that January’s movies always suck. 

What many people don’t know, is that the some of the “lesser” Oscars® are actually have what are for the most part “semi-finals” and these are made public now.

For a film to qualify for the Best Short category, it has to have either a three-day theatrical release, or have won an award at an authorized festival, (TV pilots, such as Courage the Cowardly Dog, which was nominated in 1997, are verboten) then the judges sift through all the submissions and pick the semifinalists, who then are screened by everyone who’s qualified to vote for a “real” nominee. They then vote for the finalists, and these are shown to the academy voters on a number of screenings.

Only those who have attended these “mini-fests” can actually vote for best short.

However, perusing through the list we can kind of guess where the judges were going here. At least three of the entries have won before, and director Nick Park, in fact, wins just about every time he submits one. So bet on him.

Through the miracle of YouTube, you can either see clips from these films, or if they’re short enough, the whole thing.

The Cat Piano
directors Eddie White and Ari GibsonStill from The Cat Piano
(The People’s Republic of Animation)
A city of singing cats is preyed upon by a shadowy figure intent on performing a twisted feline symphony.

French Roast
director Fabrice O. Joubert
(Pumpkin Factory/Bibo Films
The Trailer 

Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty
director Nicky Phelan / producer Darragh O’Connell
(Brown Bag Films)
Ganny bitches to her granddaughter while telling bedtime story

The Kinematograph
director-producer Tomek Baginski
(Platige Image)
Polish director Baginski, whose Fallen Art redefined CG short films in 2005 (they've won just about every festival prize there is) has finished his latest mini-masterwork about an inventor and his infernal invention. 

The Lady and the Reaper / La Dama y la Muerte
director Javier Recio Gracia
(Kandor Graphics and Green Moon)
A humorous look at death.


producer Nicolas Schmerkin
(Autour de Minuit)

Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death

director Nick Park
(Aardman Animations Ltd)
Someone is killing all the local bakers in town! Can Wallace & Gromit ™ crack the case?

Partly CloudyStill from Runaway

director Peter Sohn
(Pixar Animation Studios)
The “Stork Theory” of reproduction is explored.


director Cordell Barker
(National Film Board of Canada)

Naturally there are victims, but in the end everyone is equal.

director Roelof van den Bergh
(il Luster Productions)

Competing with the Oscars® are the Annie® awards which are run by ASIFA, the international animation society. This year's batch of nominees, is unusual because there are no overlaps the Oscar® semifinalists. They are:

Pups of Liberty
(Picnic Pictures)

Robot Chicken: Star Wars 2.5

Santa, The Fascist Years

The Rooster, The Crocodile and The Night Sky
(Barley Films)

The Story of Walls
(Badmash Animation Studios)

Active Minds: Paranormal Activity

Paranormal Activity
(2007, 99 min, USA)
Written and Directed by Oren Peli
starring: Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat
For a minimal amount of money, a filmmaker can make a professional quality film that looks 10 times as expensive as it really is. Director Peli has done this, adding a minimum of carefully placed special effects to make his Blair Witch Project inspired no-budget horror film into something actually scary.

Katie (Featherston) and Micah (Sloat) are lower-upperclass live-togethers who have a bit of a ghost problem. Katie has been bothered by an entity since she was eight and it follows her wherever she goes. Micah thinks that a little ghost hunting might be fun, so he gets lots of equipment and starts shooting.

That's the Blair Witch aspect. With the conceit that this is amateur video, Peli and company can get away with most of the film being a no-budget comedy of manners with the two principals bickering over all sorts of stuff, while simple digital animation effectively scares the willies out of you.

This is the kind of horror film that's effective because of the cheapness of the production. The more expensive special effects perfectly blend in with the pseudo-amateur video and add realism to the whole affair. This is worth a place on the Netflix queue.

Newsletter Sign Up

Upcoming Events

No Calendar Events Found or Calendar not set to Public.