Film Scouts Diaries

1997 Sundance Film Festival Diaries
Why Sundance?

by R.J. Millard

You know my friends continually ask my why I continue to work for Sundance. Every year I am a neurotic, hyper-sensitive mess before the festival, afterward I become deathly ill and reclusive for several months. I question it myself. Where is the glamour in sitting in your office at 11:00pm on New Year's Eve or sleeping on the floor of the Kimball Arts Center or in cleaning signs off Park City buildings at 6:00 (in 7' of snow) at the request of the Park City police (the neon flyers and glossy posters do not fit with the rustic aesthetics of Main Street). Why invite Barbie-and-Ken from Hollywood and factory-inspired New Yorkers to call you an insolent fool?

The Answer: Passion.

In 1992 a friend of mine suggested going to see a few films. Immediately I thought, "I could go for a double feature." She meant Sundance. What I saw that year changed my life and has stayed with me ever since. I can still feel the horror of a claustrophobic's world collapsing in around her in Barthelemy Bompard's short "Revestriction," the visual splendor and characters of Jeunet and Caro's "Delicatessen," and the campiness and creativity of Phillip Ford's "Vegas in Space." Not only are the films strikingly distinct, but the atmosphere of a film festival and the energy and enthusiasm of the filmmakers and nearly everyone there is unmatched anywhere else. It is Tom Noonan's charm, Barry Shils' laughter, Heather McDonald's sincerity, Matthew Harrison's enthusiasm, or Brian Sheehan's dedication, all filmmakers and all thrilled by the prospect of people seeing their films. But even the execs and the media people and the publicists all have passion and a love for what they are doing. Whether it be buying a film, or selling a film, or making a film, or writing about a film or simply viewing a film, they are all there out of a love...for film. If you can find another business that has the same depth of individuals or the same variety of characters, let me know. I'd love to have time to read something...sometime.

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