Sundance: Tough Movies, Tougher Deals

Down the mountain at the American Foundation for AIDS Research's annual Cinema Against AIDS benefit, celebrity hosts Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman welcomed guests including Valerie Bertinelli, Sam Neill, Kyle McLachlan, Bruce Dern, and Julie Delpy. While tickets to the event were $2,000 a pop, more than one attendee was overheard questioning whether anyone actually paid to attend. The Independent Film Channel party at the Riverhorse Café was a decidedly less formal affair, where celebs like Sam Rockwell, Corbin Bernsen, and Daphne Zuniga ate, drank, and danced with filmmakers and Sundance regulars.

While many of the special people — um, not us — got invited to VH1's annual private party, the Showbiz contingent stopped by the least formal of Sundance parties yet, an all-night dance party at Club Creation, where the animated midnight movie Wavetwisters was being fêted by DJs including Q-Bert, Craze, Ming&FS, and WishFM. We shook our booties and felt old amid the under-21, decidedly un-Sundance crowd.

Nods to the 'Process' As the independent film industry grows from infancy into adulthood and directors get more comfortable in their roles, they have also developed a knack for inside jokes that play very well to the film crowd at Sundance. Three films we've caught over the past few days have made us, and audiences, chuckle at their irreverence: In Kasi Lemmon's Caveman's Valentine, the gofer to a pretentious artist suspected of murder (Colm Feore) is constantly carrying around a digital video camera, documenting everyone and everything. "He's a filmmaker," Feore's character remarks drolly to his guests at a party, "I can't seem to get rid of him."

In Sundance veteran Tom DiCillo's Double Whammy, a caricatured white homeboy, who is writing a screenplay with his buddy with the hopes of taking it to Cannes, uses his Sundance Film Festival tote bag to stop a murderer. And in Vanessa Middleton's 30 Years to Life, down-on-his-luck comedian Tracy Morgan is forced to audition for The Colonial Williamsburg Project. The film features three African-American students travelling to Williamsburg with a video camera to investigate rumors that there are still slave owners in the sleepy colonial town and, perhaps … murder.

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