Viewpoint: The ‘stuff’ Sundance dreams are made of

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    I must either be crazy or totally devoted to the film industry. As I arrived at Trolley Square last Friday night at 6 p.m., knowing full well that tickets to the Sundance Film Festival didn’t go on sale until the next morning at 10, I felt a sense of adventure. I was finally going to take in the festival and I was going so far as to subject myself to temperatures half my age to ensure my screening pleasure.

    The night started innocently enough. I made myself comfortable with my two friends, Mandy and Jim. We brought chairs, sleeping bags, games, books and a wealth of topics fit for all-night conversations. We were bundled up and ready to sacrifice a night of warmth for the sake of cinema.

    As I layed there reading “The Great Shark Hunt,” by Hunter S. Thompson, an obscure police lyric sang through my mind over and over again. Sting referred to the participants in the 8-to-5 rat race as being “packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes.” I felt like one of those lemmings packed between Chalk Garden and Eddie Bauer in a shiny sleeping bag. We were all lemmings I suppose. Lemmings for Hollywood and the celluloid deities we flock to at the local theater.

    As the night wore on, conversations hit a giddy state of frenzy. Everybody was, naturally, talking about art and many would begin quoting something they had read in their recent Entertainment Weekly, only to have their sentences finished by other who had read the same story. Opinions on everything were expressed at some point.

    There was Lars, who felt Will Smith’s latest album was too pretentious. There was Janae, who felt that the latest Frank McCourt novel, “‘Tis,” was a worthy follow-up to “Angela’s Ashes.” There was Bill, whose latest craze is a local Ween cover-band called Spleen.

    Many people discussed what their top three choices would have been if they had been on VH1’s The List. Other’s feel that Craig Kilborn should have never left The Daily Show, and Jon Stewart should have taken over for Tom Snyder. One group went on and on about what the exact meaning of the word “lurpey” is.

    However, there were two discussions that were, hands down, the most popular. One was why some of these people are no longer members of the church (you can always tell a defector by the way they continue to complain). The other was waxing nostalgic about past episodes of “The Simpsons.” One guy had every episode but 10 on tape. No wonder he has time to camp out — all he does is watch “The Simpsons” anyway.

    My buddy Jim learned that two of the guys in the group behind us had, at one point earlier in their lives, made out with his fiancee. And as I lay in my damp sleeping bag, melted snow having seeped through the fibers, my eyes rolled when I heard that a guy further down the line had agreed to sit in nothing but his boxers for a half hour in order to win a measly $5.

    These are the people with whom I gladly spent 16 hours freezing my butt off. I realized that we were brought together, not only over Sundance, but over a love of stuff. These conversations may seem random, but they make up the stuff quotient of each of our lives, and I believe that stuff is a necessary aspect of our souls. We all may act like we don’t pay attention to such frivolity, but late at night, surrounded by supporters and comrades, we all would have very similar conversations.

    At 10 a.m., when they finally let us buy tickets, guitars were long out of tune and people had run out of coffee. But that didn’t stop nearly 300 people from looking back on the evening with a sense of accomplishment. We knew that from now on we could tell stories about what we had done, thus adding to the stuff quotient of future festival banter.

    Many of us have seen that commercial with Martin Scorsese where he calls movies “our dreams.” That’s what the night can best be described as. A night of discussing and revealing our dreams.

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