One wild night at Sundance

One wild night at Sundance

Here in Park City, Utah, it’s no simple thing to dance the Sundance. There’s no telling how many Sundance film festivals are going full tilt all at once, from the high-def documentaries at the tiny Holiday Cinemas to the celebrity hubs on Main Street and the invitation-only outposts, hidden in the snow-dusted hills, where movies and dreams are being bought and sold.There are two ways to respond to the sensory blitz. You can dart from screening to screening at some 10 festival theaters in various locations around town, towing your coat, willing the traffic to move faster and the lines to be shorter. Or you can pick a direction, go with the flow, and see where it takes you. Surrounded by 40,000 other festivalgoers, this year I’m going with the flow.Friday evening the flow leads me to the Queer Lounge, a superlatively hip, laid-back, welcoming space created and operated in Park City’s Gateway Center by Los Angeles entrepreneur Ellen Huang. It took a lot of support from a lot of queers to get this comfy-cool enterprise running, and I’m reminded why I love my job when I see The Advocate appear in acid-green laser outline in the roll of sponsors on the wall.In its second year, the Queer Lounge is a smash hit, backing up its mission to queer filmmakers with fellowship by day and hot-and-cold running queer parties every night. Friday’s bash was hosted by TLA Releasing, one of a wow-inducing upswell of gay entertainment businesses putting themselves out there this year.TLA has lots to crow about, with one of the festival’s most talked-about entries, Mysterious Skin. Several other posses are in attendance, some flanked by camera crews. Just outside the door, bathed in white-hot video light, the rather delicious-looking Michelle Wolff does stand-up interviews for Here TV. Inside, Here execs Meredith Kadlec and Stephen Macias hold court. Stacy Codikow, Lisa Thrasher, and their crew from the Los Angeles women’s networking organization Power-Up talk up their fourth consecutive Sundance short, the pungently named Billy’s Dad Is a Fudge-Packer. And AfterEllen.com founder Sarah Warn heads up a knot of lesbians sizing up the scene.Soon I find myself talking to a stranger who’s tall, dark, handsome, and burning with passion for his film, Ringers: Lord of the Fans. It’s a feature documentary on the worldwide phenomenon of fandom inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, and it’s opening the Slamdance festival at 11:30 tonight. The tall, dark producer, Jeff Marchelletta, is a Tolkien nut himself, as are cowriter Cliff Broadway and straight-but-not-narrow cowriter-director Carlene Cordova. And at this moment they’re in the midst of discovering how it feels to be loved not for oneself but for one’s movie.Cliff, who’s been known to host Los Angeles’s Lord of the Rings Oscar parties in drag—last time he was the Rohan maiden Eowyn—is pretty well beside himself, until he swings his cell phone into action, at which point he becomes terrifyingly calm and collected. Under his sleeve, Jeffrey hands me an invitation to the film’s premiere party, sponsored by Levi’s, set to kick off just minutes away. (“Don’t give this away to anybody else,” he whispers.) Elijah Wood is supposed to show; likewise Dominic Monaghan (now of the ABC TV hit Lost), who narrates the film. Contrary to type, I tag along.Out in the quiet snow-banked middle of nowhere, the party’s roaring in a temporary building, reminiscent of the mess tent from M*A*S*H, set up by what looms up like a castle from Middle-Earth but is in fact a swank ski condo. Elijah hasn’t shown by the time I leave, but a rock band is kicking ass from the tiny stage, and as my cab pulls away toward town, two stretch limos pass me going the other way.Back in town, things are getting under way at one of the fest’s principal must-attend parties, staged by Interview magazine in honor of Rize, David LaChapelle’s heartful (and gorgeous) documentary about the L.A. hip-hop clown movement known as krumping. Where’s this party taking place? The Queer Lounge, now dressed as a tattered boxing gym with a mini boxing ring in the courtyard and yellow police-barrier tape threaded all around.Inside the thump-thump-thump on the dance floor animates gorgeous men and women falling into the broad category of stars-I-should-know. Outside, on a sidewalk ribboned with ice, onlookers crowd the police barricade manned by a young publicist armed with headset, wristbands that guarantee entrance, and the all-important list. Even though they’re not inside, the spectators enjoy the suspense as each new would-be partier advances in line and waits to see whether his or her name is listed. If the answer is yes, everybody cranes forward: Is that a Name under the knit cap? If the answer’s no, and the partier gets turned away, that’s just as entertaining. Face it, seeing somebody else crestfallen is one of life’s small pleasures.Later, it’ll all get out of hand. In the wee hours, when Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton emerge in quick succession, the crowd loses it and rushes them. In minutes Main Street will be a sea of squad cars.Now it’s 11:30 p.m.—it feels like 4 a.m. or something, what with the altitude and the jet lag—and up Main Street I go to the Treasure Mountain Inn, where Slamdance movies get screened in tiny chambers with straight chairs and no air-conditioning. (“Slamdance is clothing-optional,” quips the master of ceremonies.) But the crowd is ready for Ringers. A group of actual Ringers (the Middle-Earth equivalent of Trekkies) have been camped out, in costume, all night, waiting for one of the scanty number of seats. Marchelletta, Broadway, and executive producer Tom DeSanto patrol, making sure distributors get seats. Much business is to be conducted tonight.I wish I could describe the whole film. I can say it started off great—polished, professional, with talking heads from Peter Jackson to Elijah Wood, narrated by fellow hobbit Monaghan. And there’s plenty of attention paid to the homo overtones of Frodo and Sam’s comradeship. More than that, however, I can’t say.Shamefully, I fell asleep.One day over, more to come.

Tags: World, World

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