There's a lot of recapping to be done, but before anything else, last night–WE WON THE GRAND JURY PRIZE!!!!!!! The big one! Not only that, Felicity was awarded a Special Jury Prize for Best Actress! A prize is not given every year, unless deemed appropriate. The whole team was in disbelief. For me, an out-of-body experience. Felicity's win was enough to send us home walking on sunshine. Sundancing? Yes. Indeed. But this . . . We had no expectation to win. Over the past few years, Sundance jurors have had a proclivity for and awarded far more to edgy stories. Frozen River, Precious, Winter's Bone . . . now, the trend has been broken. Love is IN, and LIKE CRAZY WINS!!!!! More on this later!
Before I start, a buddy of mine pointed out I had been doing a lot of name-dropping in
these posts. Guilty. I guess I figured being at this festival is largely about meeting people. They're going to get mentioned. By the way, the guy who pointed this out is Otis James of Nashville. He's a clothing designer–and a hell of one at that. Otis, your name . . . hath been dropped. Ker-plunk. Back to SunnyD . . .
At this halfway point, the festival tends to die down a little. A welcomed lull. The streets empty; the parking lot prices get slashed in half. Even Drake and Jon Alberts were out of town, screening Like Crazy in Madison, Wisconsin, as part of the Sundance USA program. With some spare time for the first time, Gules and I were determined to get some movies in. Wednesday, we saw three . . .
The next day brought a little more rest, as well as time to catch up with old friends. New ones, too. I chilled, I drank coffee, I had a fancy and delicious dinner with an old friend of my Mom's and his son, who is an aspiring filmmaker. I met some ladies from Boulder while warming up by a fire ring, smoking a cig. We roamed together for a while and got a drink. I seemed to click with one of them, a sweet-hearted young woman with rich brown hair. We exchanged contact info, and I wondered if I'll ever see her again. I feel like I will for some reason. . . . At once, the town was alive again, streets full for closing weekend. It also brought the return of Drake and Alberts. I found them dining with Gules. With tickets to a midnight screening of Hobo With a Shotgun at the Egyptian in hand, we decided it was time for a few drinks. We drank fast and hard, in anticipation of the neo-gridehouse-exploitation flick with a surprisingly (considering the absurd premise) solid and truthful performance by Rutger Hauer as the titular “Hobo.”
We arrived at the ceremony without a care. We were there to have fun. Pre-ceremony, New York filmmaker Sean Durkin and I agreed we had all already won by virtue of being in the room. Ironically, modest Sean ended up winning a prize as well: Best Director for his film Martha Marcy May Marlene. It was a cavalcade of faces from the nine days prior. You could feel the love and mutual appreciation in the massive venue. We took our seat, and the show began with an intro from host Tim Blake Nelson. The show moved quick. Presenters included Ray Liotta, Matt Groening and Kim Peirce, among others. When Felicity Jones was announced as being awarded the Special Jury Prize for Best Actress, Team Crazy went bananas. Sitting next to Drake, we agreed that was as good as it gets. That's all we need! So deserved. Felicity is about to become a superstar, and I can't think of anyone smarter or more beautiful from all angles to be in that position.
Finally, we came to the last award of the night. The Grand Jury Prize for Best Film, U.S. Dramatic Competition. Jason Reitman took the stage to present. The accomplished director of Juno and Up In the Air and 2011 jury member had been giving us extremely subtle hints throughout the week as to how much he enjoyed the film. When I saw he was presenting the prize, my palms became instantly soaked. “Wait a minute . . . what if we do win?” Unlike most awards shows you catch on TV, at Sundance, rather than just say “And the winner is . . .” they first explain why the film was chosen (without fully giving it away), building tension in the most dramatic of ways. “This is a film about love,” Reitman says. Both Drake and I dug our fingers into each other's legs. Jason fed the audience another tidbit, hinting at the winner to be announced in just seconds. Another gasp. “Oh, my God.” I welled up with an unexplainable mix of emotions. Almost dizzy. My body was telling me, “This is it.” Time slowed down. . . . “The Grand Jury Prize goes to a film we love: Like Crazy.” Team Crazy, once again, exploded–this time out of our seats. Jumping and howling, we were lost in the purest form of ecstasy. Validation. Hard work. Art. WE JUST WON SUNDANCE! We storm the stage. Producer Jonathan stepped up to the mic and spoke for us all. Then Drake said a few words; like the film we wrote and he directed, his words were heart-felt and genuine.
I now sit at SLC International. My flight is behind. Apparently, they lost the plane. No big deal. Tomorrow will be a day of rest. All day. Can't thank you enough for sharing the experience with me by following along. I want to thank Matt Coker for providing this opportunity and outlet. It has been great. Much love, friends and readers. Ben.