The Scarves of Sundance
(continued from page 7)

Day 6
What is it about stepping into a pile of dog crap, that it always resonates with metaphysical implications? I score a direct hit, first thing in the morning, right into the winter tread of my boot. The citizens of Salt Lake City are treated to the spectacle of the defeated Sundance director, stranded at the curb for a good 15 minutes, one foot shivering in a faded black sock, beating the boot itself against the pavement again and again, like the murderous ape with the bone in 2001. This alternates with more fine-tuned scraping with serrated bits of leaves and available scraps of gum wrapper. I examine the shit-smeared sole of my boot like a gypsy inspecting tea-leaves at the bottom of a cup. I've stepped directly into a bad omen, but unfortunately, crawling back into bed and pulling the covers over my head for the remainder of the day isn't an option; I've gotta persevere, forge ahead, one foot scraping against the icy blacktop in a hygienic limp.

Eric and Syd are at the digital center, both looking fairly wiped out from their big night. The perfect capper for their evening was trying to get back into their party after the screening -- and not being allowed in. Their publicist had to come and save them from the bouncer.

A nice bonus -- Andy Murdock happens to be in the digital center when I peek in to give a last goodbye to Angela (who, unfortunately, isn't there). He's tall and sandy-haired, and like all the other filmmakers I've met, very friendly. I'd seen his Sundance-selected short Rocketpants at RESFEST, and told him I liked it -- it's a nice slice of whacked-out dream-imagery, featuring an Elvis Presley-looking fellow with robotic nether parts, rocketing around a bizarre landscape. He shows me the cartoon he's currently working on -- he's got a tape in a digital camera, pops open the side screen and plugs some headphones into the thing for me. So I sit and watch while he sits and watches me watch. It's a couple minutes of a strange, cybernetic ecosystem, with natural forms overlapping with artificial ones. It starts with a hummingbird with a sparkplug for a head, darting its beak into a flower -- the stamen of the flower bends to the back of the bird's head and closes the circuit, flashing sparks across the interval. Other mechanical animals appear: a motorized millipede that erases the distinction between insect locomotion and the repetitive rhythms of an engine and a pelican that looks like it's descended from the notional helicopter that appeared in Da Vinci's sketchbooks. It starts getting deeply weird when a tree-borne fruit shrivels and disgorges, as its pit, the head and torso of a human infant...then the tape cuts out. "That was insanely beautiful," I say. "Thanks," Andy says, "I have no idea where it's going. But I like to work that way. Keeps it fresh, so I don't get bored with it."

These are the sorts of moments that make the festival worthwhile -- impromptu sharings of oddball visions -- the outpatients swapping their hallucinations for the sake of mutual enjoyment.


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