By Lauren Clarke-Bennett, Nissa Alloy, and Taylor Bennett
The 2014 Sundance Film Festival started off with a big bang as the theory goes; the more the merrier! To begin, the press was welcomed by the gracious and iconic Robert Redford, who spoke about the positive state of the Independent film industry. Between the multitude of must see films, the red carpets, parties, panels, gifting suites and special exhibits there was little time to just enjoy some of the most beautiful vistas on earth. The gorgeous crisp clean mountain air added to the energy of Sundance, especially walking down Main Street in the crowds and bumping into a myriad of stars like Philip Seymour Hoffman – R.I.P. Elijah Woods, Gabourey Sidibe and Elle Fanning on their way to carry out the business of promoting their new films.
The premier weekend saw not one but a few opening night films such as the award winning ‘Whiplash’ about a student drummer’s struggle to become great, with a teacher who pushes him beyond his limits, ‘The Green Prince’ which depicts a young Palestinian terrorist struggling with his allegiance to Hamas then spying on them for the Israeli government and ‘Dinosaur 13’ tells the story regarding a group of Paleontologists who discover the most intact T Rex ever found and their struggle to keep it.
Red Carpets excited and abound at a frenzied pace throughout Sundance 2014, from Zach Braff’s new Kickstarter funded film, ‘Wish I Was Here’ starring Braff, Kate Hudson and Mandy Patinkin to Robert DeNiro’s documentary honoring his father; ‘Remembering The Artist Robert DeNiro Sr.’, to Aaron Paul and newcomer Josh Wiggins film HELLION, to COLD IN JULY with Michael C. Hall and Wyatt Russell to ‘Under The Electric Sky’ filled with the wonderful characters that were documented in the film, as media interrogated the stars to help promote their films.
The ‘Day One Party’ saw streams of industry people descend on the Legacy Lodge in the Park City Mountain Resort but some VIPs went to the annual Lil Jon’s birthday party while most celebs were off at private functions getting ready for the media frenzy about to take them by storm.
With gifting lounges accompanied by media outlets, the stars and filmmakers were kept extremely busy this season. From Entertainment Tonight (ET) at the LG Music Lodge that was filled with prizes for the elite like the CONTOUR mini cam, TERVIS insulated cups, a stay at a luxury condominium community; ONE QUEENSRIDGE PLACE in Las Vegas, gorgeous VIOLETTA DIAMONDS, a cutting edge three-wheeled car by ELIO MOTORS and our fave DUTCH BROS coffee which was beautifully complemented with herb infused EVOL spirits and CHEF STACY G’s Pasta Chips and Brownie Brittle, YUMMY!
The Gibson Lounge across the alley was party central with celebs the likes of Jesse Eisenberg, Lindsay Lohan and John Lithgow coming in to be interviewed by the Associated Press (AP) along with the crowd having a few cocktails and consuming some of QUAKER OATMEAL’s scrumptious concoctions and health bars. A tribute to the BEATLES for giving us 50 years of amazing music took place at the lounge where they unveiled a picture that the fab foursome drew themselves. In addition, several panels were conducted at the lounge, such as one for the amazing documentary ALIVE INSIDE; a real eye opener about how personalized music can positively affect the deteriorating human condition of Alzheimer’s.
The ECO HIDEAWAY Lounge is always a treat, with great tasting, healthy noshes from Whole Foods along with Tito’s Handmade Vodka Gluten-Free Bloody Mary bar, Stella Artois and Stella Cidre, GoGo SqueeZ and Udis Organic Granola. Consistently the newest products from; Minky Couture designer blankets; Marisa Kenson Collection—YOUNGEVITY MK Collaborative, great SmartScarfs by FurFrenzy, stunning Deborah Gaspar Jewelry; OC Hair & Makeup; will go anywhere, The Spa at Stein Eriksen Lodge; featuring a myriad of youth enhancing skin products, Glamping vacations by Under Canvas, Seismic Audio; Repurpose Compostables; Uber; The Way TV Charity and wonderful live music the Festival’s VIPs and stars like, Elijah Wood, Patricia Arquette, Elle Fanning and Gilles Marini can genuinely enjoy.
Stopping by The SAGA Apparel Pop Up store on main street we were delighted to see their newest ski and rugged-wear fashions, with camouflage being one of their best-sellers as celebs got to take a sampling home. Udi’s gluten free table also had a pop-up restaurant with delicious eats for all and the L’Oreal’s Pop Up did a beautiful job of coiffing hair and touching up make-up.
TALENT RESOURCES had their suite at the BLUE IGUANA Mexican restaurant on Main Street where they served up a storm. Not only were there delish treats from ‘Avocados from Mexico’ but the green fruit was used to make spectacular Margarita’s and Bloody (un-oxygenated) Marys. LUVO Foods had a nutritious and delicious array of comfort food and Gardein served their newest add-on; mouthwatering chicken sliders. In addition, delightful Eppa Organic Sangria (who were fundraising for the Whole Planet Foundation) and L’Alpina Artesian Water quenched the thirst of many celebs as they perused the myriad of goodies waiting for them to sample.
The likes of Holly Madison and former co-star Kendra Wilkinson (Girls Next Door) to Joe Manganiello (True Blood), Lance Bass (N’Sync), Wayne Newton, Lil Jon, Kate Flannery (Office), Kate Hudson, Zach Braff (Scrubs/Wish I was Here), Miles Teller (Whiplash), Ireland Baldwin, Kellan Lutz (Twilight), Molly Shannon (SNL/Life After Beth), Cheryl Hines (Suburgatory) and William H. Macy (Shameless/Rudderless) were all thankful for the gifts and services that included the always fashionable Sean John outerwear and accessories who’s new Revolt TV network was on hand to capture all the action throughout the weekend. Also gifting was the stunning Cat Footwear boots, cutting edge Altec Lansing speakers and headphones, quick dry ExOfficio undergarments and Dove who did a great job on the men’s haircuts and goodie bags.
Then the IT’S SO MIAMI/EDDIE BAUER Gifting Lounge was a non-stop celebration of all things fun with a rock-wall to test ones endurance. The sportswear designer showcased his hot new items for this season as celebs like Andie Macdowell, Elijah Woods and Elle Fanning picked out their favorite numbers. PATRON Tequila was there to wet your whistle as takers muddled their own Mojito concoctions and Hello breath spray freshened their palates. Gorgeous jewelry by SATYA was on everyone’s lips as VIPs stopped to get their photos taken at the It’s So Miami photobooth.
Motorola took up residency at Park City Live on main street during the day and did a wonderful job of touting their latest collaboration for their MOTO X phone with ex Disney big-wig Glen Keane and former Pixar artist Jan Pinkava by bringing in hoards of celebrity VIPs like Joe Manganiello, Wes Bentley, Kendra Wilkinson and Lance Bass to let them experience the phone’s visual interactive cartoonery for themselves, then sending them on their way with one of their own.
Down the catwalk from the Motorola Lounge at Park City Live, NATIVE brand footwear ‘As light as a feather’ was gifting some of the smartest looking boots to lucky VIPs, CREATIVE RECREATIONS’s lifestyle footwear brand awed the celebs with their great designs and BRAUN had their awesome SERIES 7 intelligent sonic self-cleaning shaver for giftees to take home.
THE DAY FOR NIGHT IDEA LOUNGE with Rob Feld @ Huffington Post and the film fundraising platform IndieWire/IndieGoGo Filmmaker Lounge held in the Chef Dance space by day, was inundated with celebrities like Selena Gomez, William H. Macy, Gabourey Sidibe, Katie Couric who stopped by to be interviewed and snag some swag. The lounge filled with a mixture of healthy drinks and snacks by SUJA JUICE, cold pressed to nourish and cleanse and SUNRIDER created by a chemist and doctor team, along with Sabra Hummus in a cup did the trick to re-fuel the stars. KOOLABURRA showed off their brilliantly styled and cozy footwear with only the top VIPs scoring a pair. Then the marvelous makeup lines PAULA DORF and YOUR BEST FRIEND, served up at the GLOBAL BEAUTY BAR helped touch up the celebrities who came through for their interviews and filled their bags with samples to try at home.
One of the Festival’s favorites is the ever celebratory CHEFDANCE, that just wrapped up its 10th season at Sundance, where literally ‘Top Chefs’ from all over the country came to prepare a feast for celebrities like Kristen Stewart, Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Michael Cera, Adrian Grenier and the rest of the ravenous Festival glitterati. EL TESORO Tequila and SUJA Juice were on everyone’s lips to ratchet up festivities as this year Super Chefs Brooke Williamson, Tiffany Derry, Angelo Sosa, Kevin Sbraga, Pascal Lorange, and Brian Malarkey summoned up their most magnificent culinary talents to wow the crowd. On hand to finish the five magical evenings was the impressive musical talent RYAN INNES, a major contender on NBC’s the ‘VOICE’, who entertained the crowd with his sultry southern bluesy tones, till late into the night!
This year The ASCAP Music Cafe again returned for their 16th year of awesome music made by some of the most talented and distinguished singer-songwriters around. From Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi to the CMA Songwriter Spotlight which included the uber talented Brandy Clark (Mama’s Broken Heart), Brett James (Jesus take The Wheel), Chris Stapleton (Drink A Beer) and Lee Ann Womack (I Hope You Dance) audiences were delighted out of their seats. For eight days from 2 pm to 6:30 Festival insiders sat and listened to some of the industry’s top writers and performers who have created music for some of America’s most popular films and TV shows.
Park City Live changed musical direction from Rock ‘n Roll To Electronic Dance Music this Sundance season and pulled out all the stops on their night time roster by booking some of the top DJs in the world like Kascade, Steve Aoki and the twins; Nervo to wow the late night revelers.
YouTube had quite the lounge bringing in continual DJ’s during their evening Spins and live entertainers like the multi-talented singer songwriter Damon Albarn, front man of the English band Blur. Also on the roster were industry interviews, films, happy hours, wi-fi, discussion panels, Yoga, the premiere party for the film ‘They Came Together’ with Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd and The YouTube Awards.
The Airbnb Haus was a comfort and welcome oasis during the Festival to come out of the chill and hang with stars like, Mark Ruffalo and Adrian Grenier who stopped by to warm themselves by the fire and have a hot toddy. The worldwide accommodations leader also provided free housing for emerging filmmakers and a plethora of events including a midnight show with comedian SETH HERZOG and an uber fun Karaoke night with a live band!
NEW FRONTIER 2014 was on the cutting edge of what is new and exciting in the world where art meets film. Oculus Rift 3D Head Sets were used to take a deeper look inside the Universe, play a game like you’re really in it and take part in the new Electronic Dance movie ‘Under The Electric Sky’. From film concepts at the forefront to heady panels the mesmerizing museum delighted all who participated.
A much welcomed and appreciated reception was thrown for the hard working Press & Filmmakers of the Sundance Film Festival and The Filmmakers Lounge with Snap Daddy’s BBQ Sauce recipes made it a sweet spot to just chill. The Sundance Headquarters was always a welcome port in the storm and The McCafe At The Lift warmed the innards of many who stopped by to sip a cup of their delish java and pick up a pair of snuggly nite nites.
The highly anticipated Awards Ceremony & After Party with Master of Ceremonies husband and wife team Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman made the 10 days of racing around Sundance to get it all in, well worth the work… especially to hear; and the winners are…
The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented by Tracy Chapman to: Rich Hill
The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was Whiplash
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was Return to Homs
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was To Kill a Man
The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary Presented by Acura, was presented by William H. Macy to: Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory
The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic Presented by Acura, was presented by William H. Macy to: Whiplash
The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented by Felicity Huffman to: The Green Prince
The Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented by Felicity Huffman to: Difret
The Audience Award: Best of NEXT <=> was presented by Nick Offerman to: Imperial Dreams
The Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary was preented to Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard for 20,000 Days On Earth
– Compiled with Scott Bennett and Taylor Bennett