Sundance: Day one

The narrow streets of Park City are jammed with luxury SUVs, rented by visiting captains of the film industry. The shops and restaurants of Main Street have been emptied and converted into a strip of temporary “lounges” carrying the names of Skyy Vodka and Microsoft. Pedestrians consist of conspicuous black-clad journalists charging down the street, often overheard on their Blackberries saying “We’ll touch base,” while celebrities, including Kirsten Dunst, Josh Hartnett, Paris Hilton and Matthew McConaughey, roam the main drag in designer alpine gear—making Main Street the best place to hang out and star-gaze.

Though there wasn’t much star-gazing to be had two days ago, when I arrived and the city was still relatively buzz-free, limiting spottings to stars of the small screen, including David Boreanaz, of Bones, who was seen having a few drinks with a friend at a small bar called No Name, where “locals” are preferred.

But with yesterday evening’s premiere of In Bruges, award-winning playwright-turned-director Martin McDonagh’s feature film debut, the festival kicked into full gear. Starring Colin Farrell, the film takes place in the Flemish town of Bruges, where two hit men have been sent to rest and regroup after a failed execution.

(While big pictures and Hollywood stars like Farrell command much of the media’s attention at the festival, independent cinema is a festival mandate, both at Sundance and of course Slamdance, the Independent Filmmakers Festival, also in town now. Diehard indie film supporters interested in the latest festival news should check out indiegogo.com, a new blog launched at the festival.)

After the In Bruges premiere, I opted to forgo the crammed tent where the team celebrated their gala screening, and instead went across the street to a pub called McMullen’s, where there was an open mic and a healthy mix of locals and us wretched Sundancers. Amongst the latter were a couple of members of Maroon Five, looking to avoid the glitterati moving en masse to Harry O’s, the festival’s official hot spot. Don’t worry, it’s on my to-do-list.

While last night remained relatively calm on the strip, the weekend is here and it looks like there will be parties galore. Tonight’s highlights include the after-party for Counting in Fives, Nylon editor-in-chief’ Marvin Scott Jarrett’s rock documentary about British rawk ‘n’ rollers The Horrors. Filmed in association with Hugo Boss, the party is predicted to be a parade of the glamorous and well-heeled—though any sort of heel on the icy streets of Park City is a bad idea….

By Jennifer Lee

Shown: Actors Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell, who play hit men in In Bruge.

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