Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine

Special Feature

Actor and Louverture Films producer Danny Glover
I hadn’t been to Sundance since 2004 when I was on the jury, so it was with pleasure that I attended again this year with my producing partner Joslyn Barnes. Braving plunging temperatures and massivesnowfall, as well as the now notorious “Sundance Flu of ’08,” we trekked out for opening night. Robert Redford opened the festival by placing emphasis on what he termed “the trueagents of change” – meaning filmmakers. This notion provided some of the subtext at one of the many interesting panels, “Black in America,” organized by Cara Mertes. The event was standingroom-only. Provocative questions were raised by the panelists and the audience: Were conditions better for black filmmakers now than in the early ’90s? Were black filmmaker any more in control of the means of production than before? And the Elvis Mitchell zinger: “A lot of black filmmakers don’t think of coming [to Park City] because they don’t believe they havea shot. Does Sundance have a responsibility to reach out to them?” We all have a responsibility to reach out to one another and in so doing dig deeper than the idea of diversity to practice genuine inclusiveness. As I stated on the panel, quoting the great Paul Robeson, “It’s not enough for an artist to create the reality he sees, it is incumbent upon him to create the reality he can imagine.” Doesn’t the power of art really lie in cultivating understanding, empathy and connection among us all?
Congressional election into a vibrant Presidential race with après-ski chic replacing back-room power suits, door negotiations worse than bipartisan wrangling over immigration, and the fervor of celebrity spotting more intense than grandstanding at a Clinton/Obama debate. When the clock chimes eleven, Farrell and the crowd from the Kicking It premiere makes their way to the Washington Life and Celebrity Service hosted after party at Ciseros, which has been transformed by LIVEstyle Entertainment event maestros David Manning and Ryan Heil into the hopping nightlife venue “Greenhouse at Top of Main,” sponsored by Belvedere Vodka and Lexus. The entrance to Ciseros is a madhouse. Everyone of the afore-listed persons – filmmakers, film lovers, etc. – seem to be standing on the opposite side of a metal crowd control barrier trying to gain the attention of someone with a list. On this night, that would be Nicole Bagley and me. Playing door person at the “it spot,” at the “it time,” on the “it night” at Sundance is no laughing matter. To borrow an analogy from Sundance-award-winning documentary American Teen (Nanette Burstein won the directing award) – working the door here is akin to being the lone ticket seller at a Hannah Montana concert, but instead of getting assaulted by overcaffeinated suburban commandos and ’tween daughters dolled up in Juicy sweatpants, the rush comes in the form of well-tanned producers; actors you’ve heard of (and a whole lot more who think you should have heard of them); friends of friends of friends, who want in +10; and 20-something publicists from New York
who threaten to deny us access to their celebrity clients forever, then leave in a huff mumbling something about Chelsea and Bungalow 8. Colin Farrell arrives with the Washington team from Kicking It. They get in. Problem now is that everyone who wanted to get in before, now really wants to get in. Adding fuel to the fire, the DJ spinning inside is internationally renowned mixologist Paul Oakenfold. After the first waveof people enter, Lindsey Levine and Arman Shehabi thankfully rescue us from door duties – this is a family operation after all – and we head inside. It could be Saturday night at Café Milano – the place is filled with Washingtonians. There is a great energy and civic pride emanating from the room. Everyone is excited to see Washington doing such high-caliber work. Or, it could be because the party directly after ours happens to be the after party for U2 3D – and yes, the boys from Dublin showed up. Again, Pollywood is front and center. U2 3D was produced by National Geographic Entertainment and National Geographic Ventures. When I head from the lower level into the second floor VIP lounge where the band is holding court, I spot National Geographic Ventures President and CEO Tim Kelly basking in the spotlight with Bono, David “The Edge” Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr. In the vernacular of Sundance’s fast lane, Kelly is cruising on the Autobahn. As the Washington Life/Kicking It party melds into the U2 3D after party, word spreads that U2 is planning to give an impromptu live performance. It certainly looks like it. While
Sundance has become a second home for filmmakers and guerrilla marketers. (Photo by David Shechter)
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