Sundance: Day three

A local told me today that on this, the first Saturday of the festival, the city reaches its maximum capacity. I felt the sting of that truth while waiting 30 minutes to get a cup of coffee at Canada’s own Cow’s ice cream parlor/café—oddly, a festival hot spot.

With cup in hand, I made my way to the Music Café, where I was meeting Alex Church of Sea Wolf, indie-rock’s best kept secret. Organized by ASCAP—America’s first and leading performance rights organization—the Café features a daily lineup of intimate shows performed by greats newly minted (recent Rolling Stone cover story Ingrid Michaelson) and those already legendary (Patti Smith).

When I walked in, the band was onstage going through sound check—if I wasn’t already a fan, I would have become one based on that preview. Church’s music has the lyricism of Dylan, backed by the vocal range of Lennon. Unlike other rockers in town, Church plays it low-key. His dress is as genuine as his music—he wears a North Face jacket as opposed to a shrunken leather jacket, which seems to be the trend with the rest of the Sundance musician crowd. (Remember, it’s below zero this time of year.) Though ticketed as one of the best singer/songwriters working right now, Church seems clueless of the fact that the muted hype surrounding his band’s latest album, Leaves in the River, deserves to be bolstered. Since our interview last week, I’ve been going around town telling everyone (including other musicians) to buy his album. I suspect some people may think me a groupie. Fair enough. Buy the album.

The screening of the day was Riprendimi, a mockumentary about a cliché-ridden struggling actor, who leaves his wife. Directed by Italy’s Anna Negri, the film (written by Negri post-divorce) is a tragic-comedy that will have every woman remembering her own breakup moments with a tearful giggle.

Midnight brought the realization that Sundance may in fact be the Vegas of film festivals. After a quiet dinner prepared by New York chef Todd Mark Miller, enjoyed with 50 Cent and about 50 other guests, I popped by 50’s concert upstairs, got claustrophobic, and moved on to a place called Hyde’s—an L.A. transplant bar that takes over the old lumber yard on the outskirts of town during Sundance.

V.I.P booths (sans red rope) trace the circumference of the dance floor, peppered with celebs including Jessica Alba, Rufus Sewell, Josh Hartnett, Paris Hilton and Kirsten Dunst. Later in the evening the latter two tested out the neon-lit sled hill beside the venue—an act repeated by various other stars as dawn approached.

By Jennifer Lee

Shown: An outtake from Riprendimi, with lead actress Alba Rohrwacher.

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