Sunday Mornings

This last week of news has made me sick. Likely you too.

I was in the grocery store earlier this week when suddenly the power went out. I was in the back corner near the deli, milk and bread, so when the power went out it was dark (see photo above). Although only about a minute, it felt much longer before the emergency lighting came on. It was completely and eerily silent. In that moment, I wondered if this was due to some larger event and my adrenaline kicked in. “Do I know where the emergency exit is?” I thought. No one knew what was going on and yet everyone remained calm and quiet. A few people grumbled of Korea/Trump and others felt totally inconvenienced. As people began abandoning their shopping carts, it felt like a scene out of a zombie movie. In the end, it was only a major neighborhood power outage, so no need to fret. I stood in what little light came through the front doors waiting to see if I could pay for my groceries and took in the strange peacefulness of a dark and empty grocery store. That I even had a thought of more danger now seems ridiculous, but that’s how anxiety works. How sad that I even considered the worst while in the midst of such mundane tasks.

While I hoped to be more of an escape for you today, it doesn’t feel appropriate. Keeping it short with only a few links, so that you spend more of your day with someone you love.

Stay strong and be kind to each other.

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Films & Food: Sundance Film Festival 2017

Today begins my eleventh Sundance. If you had told 14-year-old Sarah that future-Sarah would have spent over a decade trekking to Park City, Utah, she would have laughed in your face. (She would have also probably not realized that Sundance Film Festival was in Utah.)

But here I am. My eleventh time riding up the mountain to stand in lines, cry in movies and overdose on airborne while trying not to catch the plague. Sidenote: the Sundance flu is real and faithful. Post on that next week.

With an Industry Pass, I attend most of my screenings without a public audience and with fellow industry colleagues. There is a distinct difference between Industry and Public screenings. Industry are notoriously more critical of films and it’s common for people to walk in and out of screenings. Buyers or programmers may decide in fifteen or thirty minutes if the film is something they are interested in and will not waste time finishing it if it is not the right fit. This was an odd thing to witness when I started attending P&I screenings long ago, but now I’m use to it and have played my part in it. Public screenings have a general excitement filling the room as you’re often sharing the space with the filmmakers’ friends, family and supporters – or people just excited that they got into a Sundance screening. Through my work I receive a few public screening tickets and it’s fun to share in that experience too. There is nothing like catching a premiere at Sundance. The anticipation in the room is palpable and emotions run high. The environment you see a screening can influence your approach and perception of a film, so it is something to keep in mind when hearing opinions on the film from others.

sundance-2017-pi-spreadsheet
2017 Press & Industry schedule with my hope-to-see highlights. And yes, there are days where more than one film at a time is highlighted. It’ll be a roll of the dice.

One thing I’ve learned from my many years of attending Sundance is putting together the puzzle of your personal schedule. If you’ve ever attended a festival at all you know this struggle. For Sundance, this becomes ten fold. You must figure in your travel time (it’s ALWAYS slower to get somewhere on Friday or Saturday night of first weekend – be ready to walk in those snowboots). Industry often camp out at the industry-specific theaters all day, so it’s possible you’ll catch a movie in the middle of the day only because it is easier than going to another location. Industry receive the screening times a month before the festival in order to plan. The trick during planning a schedule is leaving room for surprises and spontaneity. Once on the ground, the schedule may go out the window. One day you want to end on a “good note” so you decide to call it and meet up with friends. Or your dinner party goes later than planned. You may end up at a party that someone gets you in or are given an extra ticket to a public screening from a buddy. You may over sleep that 8:30am screening (because catching a shuttle at 7:15am feels so early when you went to bed five hours before). The whole day shifts as you fill in the gaps and see a buzzed-about movie. All of that is part of the fun. It allows for discovery, new friends and memories.

sundance-2009-photo
Sundance 2009: walking in the snow, on the way to/from a house party, around 2:00am. I seem to have a LOT of blurry photos from past Sundances…

As for fitting food into that schedule, that can also be tricky. The food in Park City is not exactly…amazing. Ok, so it mostly sucks unless you can spend real cash (read: not on a non-profit org budget). The key is grocery shopping upon arrival and making whatever quick meals you can make in the condo. My go-to meals include:

  • ravioli with pesto
  • salads (a few grocery-premade ones which are not the best, but again, you take what you can get)
  • cereal (breakfast, lunch or dinner)
  • salami or deli meat, crackers & cheese

There are a few good spots for dining (and drinking) in Park City too:

  • Davanza’s – the best little dive restaurant in my opinion. Tacos, pizza and hamburgers for the win. I probably eat here too often.
  • High West Distillery & Saloon – one of my favorite places to grab a drink with friend (if it’s not taken over by a party).
  • Riverhorse on Main – This is $$$$, but totally worth a real, sit down meal when you need to take a time out.
  • Butcher’s Chop Shop – Another one on the expensive side, but a decent bar and cozy place to unwind.
  • Flanagan’s – An Irish pub that has very basic food. If you’re uphill on Main Street, you could do worse.
  • El Chubasco – Another cheap Mexican option. I always see someone I know in here. Close to HQ, Eccles, Prospector theater.

I’m looking forward to what this eleventh experience will bring, seeing a few old friends and discovering new filmmakers. I’ll post a few of the (shareable)stories next week!

Will I see you in Park City? What tips do you have for making a festival schedule? Any favorite restaurants in Park City you recommend? Let me know in the comments.

Menus & Movie Queues

I love cooking, but often dread trying to think of what’s for dinner. Does that happen to you too? It sometimes takes me an hour to think through all my options and consider what my body craves. It tends to be something in the Southern or Mexican palate. And there’s typically a desire for carbs and/or red meat. Plus figuring out the matching vegetable side that I know should be more than the carb or protein. I also like to change it up – how boring to have the same 4 meals in rotation when there’s time to cook. Then it becomes going down the rabbit hole of food blogs. The choice to cook whatever I want is both a luxury and a curse. (I understand even a small complaint about this is beyond a first world problem.)

Here’s the thing: too many options causes decision paralysis for me. The struggle is real. I must feel out all the flavors before I even make it into the grocery store or we’re doomed.

The same is true for picking a movie.

As a fest programmer, there are days when I am watching 20 shorts or three to five documentary features in day (or a mix of both). At the end of the night, when most people come home from work to unwind by watching TV or a movie with little care, I am the opposite. When I’m in heavy screening mode, I am extremely particular in how I chose my “screen time”, as my husband can attest. This is precious, personal time we’re talking about. Two hours where I don’t necessarily have to have my brain “on” to critique or consider each piece of production value or whether the story has a loop-hole (or worse yet, if a story even exists). So even then, the options are endless. I hate that it takes so long to make a choice, but it seems I’m not the only one that is wasting away time on this act.

Let me set the scene for you:

After cooking a delightful meal with my husband, we discuss what the evening has in store as we settle into our living room.

“Do you want to watch something?” he asks, because while E works in film and has his own share of screen time during the day, it’s often watching the same thing over and over again (the task of an editor).

“Sure. Is it my night (to pick) or yours?” I reply.

“It’s yours. Think you can pick something in the next five minutes?” says E.

“…hmm… yes?” Though we both know this is probably not true.

There I am, scrolling through the Netflix app, the iTunes app, and scanning our perfectly organized collection of physical movies. I think. And ponder. And think.

netflix-streaming

If we’re currently in the middle of a TV series, that often is the easiest choice. If we are not, the situation is more complicated. Something new? Something old? New to me? Or an old-tried-and-true?

Drama? Noir? Action? Documentary. No probably not – too much like work.

Comedy. After watching so many real-life stories of human right struggles, conflicts or the issues of the world, comedy often restores my film energy.

Ok, comedy. Romantic? Screwball? Classic? 80s?

“How’s it coming?” E says.

“…Debating between two” I lie.

The standards run though my head: Clueless? Mean Girls? The Apartment? Raising Arizona? Office Space? Animal House? The Blues Brothers? Some Like It Hot? Ghostbusters? Anchor Man? On the scale of “how many bad movies did I already watch today and do I need Paul Rudd in my life”? I know that any of these choices will likely make E roll his eyes (out of love of course), but it’s my night to pick after all. He can watch Gosford Park another night.

“Ok, I got it.” I perk up.

“Great! What are we watching?” E asks.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid… Or The Sting…. ” I reply, surprising myself a little by my sudden half-decision.

E smiles. I let him pick from there because either way I get what my gut wants: Redford and Newman in their prime.

Please tell me I’m not the only one that has choice paralysis when it comes to food and movies. What’s your go to genre to watch or meal to eat after a long day? Let me know in the comments!