The Scarves of Sundance
(continued from page 3)

We go to the official party tonight, in honor of Julianne Moore, who's received an award today. It's sponsored by Champagne Piper-Heidsieck, but the free champagne's already run out by the time we get there. We don't know anyone and feel completely at sea in the transplanted-Hollywood vibe. In one corner of the ski lodge, people are lining up to have their photographs taken alongside a huge bottle of (presumably Piper-Heidsieck) champagne. A weird totem to build a weird little ritual around. At one point we try to head up to the second floor of the party, but are turned back, because we don't have an extra-special VIP pass. "Filmmakers aren't VIPs?" I ask, incredulous. We're about to pack it up, when we see Elisa Greene, Wildbrain's publicist, and George Evelyn, the director of The Great Big Cartoony Club Show. They manage to save the party for us. It's the first time I've met George -- he has a native garrulousness that seems to have, over the years, matured into a philosophy of life. The Internet has given him a second wind as an animator. He was instrumental in getting the Cartoon Network Website to buy off on the notion of producing a number of self-contained short subjects -- no series potential, no merchandizing tie-ins, no re-purposing of old copyrighted characters into obnoxious contemporary "relevance." The Internet has been the greatest boon to the cartoon short since trailers booted them off the movie screens -- George has taken the ball and run with it and it's obvious he's delighted.

Day 3
A night of perturbing and idiotic dreams. The waking world offers more of the same. Someone on the street is wearing a cardboard sign: "Will Work for Distribution." Someone else has a hand-puppet, a shapeless brown mass with eyes. "I'm H.R. Puke-n-shit!" it announces. The puppeteer is wearing a hat with a dotcom address -- I'm glad the fellow is doing his part to perpetuate the image of the Internet as the most high-tech toilet stall in human history. Cameramen and sound guys swinging boom mics are already converging on H.R. for sound bites...

It takes forever for me to get food into my gut this morning. Big mistake -- the emptiness in my stomach is getting impatient and crawling up my brain stem. I'm wondering if I've made a horrible mistake. I've laid out a ridiculous amount of money and time in anticipation of Sundance, and I'm feeling like a sucker. Is anyone ever going to show up at the digital center? Does anyone give a crap at all?

The short Sundance selected for the festival is called Scarf Mania -- it features a hapless everyman character, named Romanov. He travels to a city whose cultural and economic life revolves around the wearing of scarves, and Romanov just can't get the hang of it -- he keeps getting tangled up, etc, and as a result he's a laughingstock. Scarf Mania is supposed to be a comedy of alienation, but I'm feeling it a little too intimately right now. I've joked that it's an allegory of the wee little digital filmmaker, lost among the scarves of Sundance...and the joke's getting less and less funny by the minute.

Kristin and I go from restaurant to restaurant. They're all choked with huge lines. Someone standing in front of one restaurant propositions us: "Do you want to come inside? Right now, inside, Elvis Mitchell is interviewing Forest Whittaker." "But is there food? Can we eat?" "Yes, the buffet's open." We dash inside. Folks are pressed up against glass partitions, and against the outside windows too, completely out of earshot, but looking intently at the two men, who are just sitting and talking. That's the signal of the famous -- and what makes them like zoo animals -- people will watch them even if they're not doing anything interesting.

Unfortunately the buffet looks pretty unappetizing, and we're back on the street. Finally we find a pizza place that, for some reason, is almost entirely deserted. Like an oasis in the desert of schmooze. Soon, with a nice helping of bread and cheese in my stomach, I'm teetering toward equilibrium -- bring it on, I'm ready to face the day.


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