09 May 2008

The Festival in 2003

Kate told a few interesting stories about her brushes with a few celebrities, and it got me thinking. So I thought I’d share my stories. All of them center around one event.

In 2003, I was fortunate enough to attend the Sundance Film Festival. I went with the X, and it was quite possibly the worst trip we’d ever taken together. I won’t bore you with details, but that trip was a turning point for me personally, and several months after the trip, I broke up with him for good.

But that’s not what this story is about. The only brushes with celebrity I’ve had in my life were at the Festival. As you can imagine, there are dozens and dozens of movies shown throughout the 2-ish weeks of the Festival. Some of these showings are considered “premiers,” meaning that not only is it the first time the films are being shown to the public, but also that the actors in these movies are known well enough to warrant a big hoo-ha deal. The first of these premiers that we went to was a movie called Masked and Anonymous. Click the link and you’ll see who is in the movie—it has a crap-ton of well-known actors. An hour before the movie started, we arrived at the theatre, located in the local high school. As we pulled up on the parking lot in the bus, we could see that there were swarms of people around the entrance to the theatre, and the flashes of many pictures being taken. Once we got off the bus, we could see that there was a red carpet lining a walkway to the front door, flanked by roped-off areas containing media persons in one section, and screaming hippies in another. We must have missed whatever caused all the commotion because the atmosphere calmed down a bit as we joined the line of people who had actual tickets to the movie (as opposed to stand-by tickets). It wasn’t until we reached the front of the line that I realized why there were hippies there. I had forgotten that Bob Dylan was in the movie; the large group of screaming and weepy hippies clutching their well-worn Dylan LPs to their chests were there to see him, though apparently none of them had tickets.

Once we were seated, I noticed Roger Ebert standing in the side aisle to my right. The X was unimpressed. Then once everyone was settled, the director came out onto the stage to introduce the movie. I figured he would talk a bit and that would be it. Nope. There was much more. Not long after he started talking, he introduced the guests who had come with him: Jessica Lange, Luke Wilson, John Goodman, and Christian Slater. I think Penelope Cruz was there too, but I can’t remember exactly. Then, after the actors had walked to the middle of the stage and were just standing there smiling, the director introduced Bob Dylan, who took the stage amongst frantic applause from the audience. Such a small, shy man; he was clearly uncomfortable with the attention. The celebrity guests stood on the stage for a few minutes before leaving to sit in their seats in the first few rows. The movie started.

I’d love to say that it was a great movie; that not only did I have this (sadly, unphotographed) completely unexpected encounter with celebrity, but that the movie was amazing as well. Unfortunately, the movie was absolutely horrible. Definitely worse than any of the 20 other movies I saw the 5 days we were there. I don’t even remember the plot. I read the synopsis on IMDB, and nothing clicked. Can’t remember a thing.

And the story doesn’t end there. Remember how I said that Roger Ebert was in the theatre? Well, after the movie was over, and the crowd started filing out of the theatre, the X and I pushed our way through the mass of people in the lobby. I turned around to make sure the X was behind me, and when I turned back, CRASH!! Roger Ebert slammed into me, walking the opposite direction of all the other people in the crowd. He didn’t even stop or apologize. Thankfully I didn’t fall to the ground, or I’m sure I would have been trampled.

The other celebrity story from that trip involved a premier for a movie called Owning Mahowny, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Minnie Driver. This movie was being shown at the Egyptian Theater in downtown Park City. Once again, we arrived an hour before the movie started and took our places in the ticket-holders’ line. The line was pretty long—it wrapped around the side of the theatre down some steps next to the theatre and through an alleyway. During the mind-numbing boredom of waiting to be let in, I was looking around and noticed someone in a blue parka at the top of the stairs, looking over the crowd. It took a few minutes of squinting and staring, but I finally recognized him—Philip Seymour Hoffman. Again, the X wasn’t impressed. When the line finally started moving, and we made our way to the front door, we passed him again. He was standing outside the door; I was probably only 2 feet from him when we passed by. I was too embarrassed to stare though.

After the movie, there was a Q&A session. Many of the movies had these so that the audience could ask the directors questions. We had a movie we had to go to across town, so we left before the Q&A started. As the X was rushing me out of the theatre, we passed by Minnie Driver in the lobby. She was imploring people to “please stay for the Q&A!” I paused for a moment, but the X got irritated and wouldn’t let me stay and meet her. I don’t remember much about her except the impression that she was really tall and really pretty.

So that’s it—my brush with celebrity. Exciting, huh? Oh, and that Owning Mahowny movie? MUCH better than the Bob Dylan one.


Blogger Kate said...

You're, like, almost famous yourself, at least by association.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Batty said...

See, I almost never watch TV, and I go to the movies rarely enough that I wouldn't know most celebrities if they jumped up and down and waved their arms right in front of me. Plus, I have that weird condition where you can't positively identify a person unless I've met them and talked to them for an extended period of time, preferably more than once. It would make me pretty darn useless as a witness to most things.

7:34 AM  
Blogger Magatha said...

I love seeing celebs 'out of context'. I live in a town just overflowing with celebs and their friends. I've seen Kevin Sorbo, the Smashmouth guy, and Mary McDonnel at the grocery store. I've seen Sigfried and Roy in the drug store parking lot.
I once saw Elizabeth Taylor at Goldwaters in Scottsdale AZ. That was my 'biggest' sighting.

I don't know what I'd say to Dylan if I ever met him. "Hey dude, my brother used to keep me awake at night playing your music. I used to bang on the wall and yell at him that you sounded like a dying cow!"

9:38 AM  
Blogger kemtee said...

Veeery interesting. :-)

8:51 PM  

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