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Sundance Film Festival Day 5

I should really title this “Salt Lake Day” but I thought I’d keep it grouped with the rest of the trip.

We slept in this morning.  Mom and I have enjoyed our time at the Avenues Hostel…
.people have been nice, quiet hours have been followed, and it’s been comfy enough.  Mom and I are in a room with a queen bed and a bunk bed.  We’ve been sharing the queen, but something in the sheet makes me sweat at night.  Last night it was nuts, so I moved to the top bunk and got quite rested.

Our first stop for the morning was Mrs. Backers Pastry Shop – lots of delicious things in there.  We got a few items for a super sweet breakfast and drove to Temple square.  It is empty in this area on a Wednesday at 10am, so we just parked right in front of the temple at a parking meter.  This is the temple for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the mormons).  They don’t allow non-LDS folks in the temple, but had a very cool cut-away model of it in the south visitor center….there are even touch video screens that give you mini tours and 360 views of some of the important rooms.  It was neato.  We also popped inside the tabernacle where the organ man was practicing a bit…the acoustics were so perfect we could hear him flipping pages from the back!  This is where the mormon tabernacle choir sings.   Our last stop was the Beehive house – its the home of Brigham Young  He is the leader who led the LDS pioneers into the Utah territory to live without religous persecution.  It was actually very ornate and fancy!  This surprised me until we put together that it was decorated simply for a long time, and then slowly became fancier as it was the governors mansion.  The tour was great.  I always quite enjoy learning about other religions – we were offered information about missionary visits and joining the church.  One of the guys in our tour group was a young man on his way to the missionary training center.  He was heading to Costa Rica, lucky guy.

We had wanted to do some more touring in the area, but also wanted to get in some snowshowing.  I drove down to Big Cottonwood canyon with one pit stop at a 7-11 for some lunch of hot dogs and soda.  Health food.  The canyon was gorgeous – the sun was shining, the snow was glistening, and there weren’t very many people.  We parked at Jordan Pines, got our snowpants on, and trudged away.  The smell of pine and coldness filled the air, and the sound of dripping melted snow trickled down the tree branches.  We wandered along the trails in the area at our whim, and eventually made a loop hike out of it.  Both of  had a wonderful time simply being outside.  It has been so fun hanging out with mom, talking about everything, and enjoying each others company.  Our snowshoeing took us over hills, through pine trees, between aspens, and then around to a campground before joining back with the packed snow road leading to our car.  The sun was out sparkling the snow.  We saw a pack of cheepy bird get chased by a grumpy blackbird and we saw lots of rabbit prints in the fresh powder.  Once we returned to the car it hit us that this has truly been an amazing trip.

This evening we returned to the Thrive food distribution center for a food demo and live webcast by their chef.  It was too funny, too, that my friends parents were there!  It was a fun way to see the food and get a free meal.  On the way back to the hostel we also stopped at IKEA where I love to go for space-saving ideas.  Back at the hostel we went threw our stuff, traded pictures, and packed our bags – early flights out tomorrow.

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Sundance Film Festival Day 4

Today Mom and I spent the morning here in the Salt Lake Valley. I had a few ‘errands’ I wanted to run…the first was to pickup my Thrive food from the distribution center in American Fork.
  So, my friend Amanda has a home business selling freeze-dried food; I went to her party last week and decided to pickup my order instead of paying shipping!  It was great.  The business is very neat – and it was a bonus for mom that they had a big store area where she could try out all the food.  Sold.  Our next stop was to visit my old office at the Cityworks building.  It was super fun to see Russ and David again.  We rehashed the “old days”, laughed at the old tricks we’d play, and shared pics of our kids.  It was fun!  The business has grown so much now.

Down here in Salt Lake it was very overcast all morning, but as we drove up to Park City it became apparent it was just the inversion keeping the clouds down in the valley.  Up at the Sundance Film Festival the sun was shiny and warm!  Mom and I decided to just get lunch at the Whole Foods market near the freeway, and then parked the car in the adjacent Redstone shopping area.  It’s free to park there – this has been the challenge for the whole festival – so we rode the bus into Park City from there.  Easy peesy. We met up with Tyler down town Park City and wandered about.  It was nice to spend the afternoon just milling around in the shops, picking up souveniors, and watching people.  Park City is a super cute little mountain town. We also visited the ticket center to trade out some tickets we were no longer going to use…new plans for the evening!  Tyler was able to use them to get tickets for showings later in the week.  Stopped at a place called Pizza and Noodle for some pizza before wandering to the transportation center for our bus to the MARC.

This theater was big!  Tyler’s film How to Survive a Plague is showing here later in the week and I hope they get a big crowd, too.  The film we saw was called Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry.  It was a documentary about Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei – his art and his unusual methods of demonstrating against the Chinese government. It was super interesting.  I knew very little about Ai Wei Wei, and now I do.  This is a film in competition with Tyler’s.  I think Tyler’s is better.  of course.  It was fun to watch, especially since Tyler was able to join us.

When this was over the three of us took a bus and another bus back to the car and then drove to the mansion.  oh, yes, the mansion.  So, most of the How to Survive a Plague production folks and guests who were in the film were staying at this gigantic rental mansion on the back side of Park City.  It was huge…super huge and fancy.  Fireplaces, 3 dishwashers, elevator, all-suite bedrooms, bathrooms to numerous to count, and a film screening room.  It was amazing; something none of these folks are accustomed too either.  Well we were invited for dinner, which was so nice.  We had such a wonderful time visiting with everyone, eating homemade chicken parm, and simply enjoying being a part.  The entire crew has been so kind to mom and I; they really drew us in like part of the fam.  I will really treasure that.

Eventually it got late and we had to go. Our back to Salt Lake was tiring – I think we got to bed at 1am.

Sundance Film Festival Day 3

I’m trying not to be repetitive, but this was just another great day at the Sundance Film Festival.  Mom and I slept in after our late night, and reheated our leftover Hot Pot (from lunch yesterday) for breakfast.  We are staying at the Avenues Hostel in Salt Lake City. 
It’s a standard hostel with bunk rooms and public hang out areas.  We booked a double private room with an ensuite bathroom…there are a few here. Our room is on the second floor just off the upstairs TV room which made me nervous about noise at first.  It hasn’t been an issue, yet, as the other guests seem to abide by the quiet hours.  Quite near our room is also the kitchen, so it was very convenient for heating up our soup at breakfast time.  The windows from the kitchen have a lovely view of the local ‘avenues’ neighborhood and the mountains; a beautiful scene to awaken too.

The drive up Parley’s canyon to Park city has been a breeze – very quick from here to drive along the foothills near the University of Utah and hook onto I-80 east.  Our first program to view today was the Animation Shorts, but we got up to the venue earlier enough that we could make a quick pit stop at the outlet mall where mom wanted to do a bit of shopping.  The shorts program was at the Redstone Theater, which isn’t in Park city proper; it is out near the freeway at Kimball Junction so there is plenty of parking right there.  Wonderfully convenient.  While in line on the way in we met the director of ‘Avocado’s’ – so I got my picture with her.  It turned out to be a cute little film about a few moments on a subway – shown from different peoples’ eyes.  The animations were neat or wierd or bizzarre or funny.  My favorite was the funny “Dr. Breakfast”.  Loved it….a guy has his consciousness decide to go on an eating binge around the world leaving his body at home.  Well, the local deer befriend and take care of him.  It had the audience roaring.  Another about a cicada was poiniant – reflection on how the Japanese nuclear reactor meltdown will affect other creatures as well.  A few were just to odd and dark to enjoy.  Mom was less than impressed and commented that she almost fell asleep a few times. oh well.  Later at lunch Tyler agreed with her that animated shorts are crap!  Well I enjoyed the branching out into a bit of oddity.

We had lunch at Loco Lizard after picking Tyler up at his place.  Rosalee flew home today, sadly, so it was just the three of us.  The carne asada was great!  Tyler wanted to see if he could get some tickets to other shows at the special Sundance headquarters office so we dropped him off there and went on our own adventure to find a snowshoe trail.  Well, I had printed out a few options at home before we left so we followed the directions and found that there was just no parking at the trail.  We were on our way to another spot when mom eyed a playground.  So, just to get out, mess around, and get mom accustomed to snoeshowing we figured messing at a snowy playground would be fine.  Snow had been coming down all afternoon and hasn’t stopped yet…as I type now at 11pm!  The playground was a fine place to walk around until we realized it was along a great trail right through town!  The mcleod trail follows a creekbed through the neighborhoods on the east side of Park City.  Perfect.  We ended up having a great time and staying out longer than we expected.  By the time we got back to the car we needed to get moving to our evening film. 

I found out that one of the sundance parking lots is free after 3pm so we booked it over there – and by ‘booked’ I mean drove slowly in traffic, overshot our turn, got gas, and then finally found it.  There are shuttle busses running everywhere, but we chose to walk.  Our snowshoeing rejuvinated our need for some outside time…and it was a nice snowy, but cold, night.  Bundled we walked the mile or so into town to the New Frontier.  This place was cool.  New Frontier is a category at Sundance where the programs are integrating film with other art forms like music, visual art, computers, etc…  So there is a gallery of smaller programs and exhibits in the New Frontier to walk through an explore in addition to a small intimate theater. We truly enjoyed the first 3-D program called “Evolution” – it was just a giant wall collage of scenes from humanity.  In 3-D!  Another fun one was Bear 71 – an example of how technology can help people connect with animals more.  It’s a huge web-map of all the online animal cams; we were given an ipad to aim at the big map to follow any of the animals.  Neat.  The New Frontier also has a little cafe/bar.  We filled our Sundance water bottles at the ‘Hydration Station’ – free bottled water tanks that are setup all over the festival.  After all this we were not sure what to expect from the film we had tickets too.   It was Himalaya Song and started at 7:30pm – we got to see the world premier!

Himalaya Song is a film and accompanying live music that follows the story of Anya  – a geologist living in Delhi that travels to the Himalaya’s to help handle the effects of global warming.  Along the way we learn about the native traditions and beliefs in the mountains and how there is much commonality between India and China.  Mom and I were both blown away.  It was an amazing show.  There would be footage of the mountains or people while the narrator told the story, and between chapters would be a more artistic abstract film while the musicians were the focus.  The music was inspiring, too.  It was all written specially for the project by the two performers.  During the Q & A session at the end we found out about traditional musical instruments from both India and China used during the performance.  We were also all given a bag of Special Oolong tea from the area!  Amazing.  We stayed long enough to give the performers/director a handshake and thank you and then were off.   Both mom and I really felt like Himalaya Song was a super well put together and worthwhile production – blending live music with narrative and film made it seem intimate.  I guess the small theater did, too.  Talking about all this artsy stuff made our walk back to the car very quick.

Before going to the hostel we were in the mood for something sweet.  Drove around the ‘not downtown’ parts of Park City to find stuff closed, so a $1 sundae from McDonald fit the bill.  We ate in the car in the parking lot.  The snow was still coming down in full force, so our drive back to SLC was slow.  I-80 was covered in slush and fresh powder; so much I couldn’t see the dotted lines.  I’m sure tomorrow all the fresh snow with be gorgeous!

How to Survive a Plague – Sundance Day 2

This day has been incredible!   Mom and I woke well rested and grabbed some breakfast downstairs here at the Avenues Hostel.  They provide toast, eggs, cereal, etc. for you to prepare.
  We then spent the morning getting ready for Tyler’s big premier; this included tracking down mom’s suitcase which Delta had dropped off down in the lobby, showering and getting all dressed for success.  We then drove up to Park City.

The day was gorgeous!  It was sunny and all the freshly fallen snow was simply hanging on the trees and glittering.  We picked up Tyler and Rosalee and did a drive by of the Temple Theater…just to see where exactly it was and figure out where to park.  Parking is an issue here – they really encourage you to use the public transpo, which is great, but we needed a place to ditch the car.  Anyway, we popped into a Hot Pot restaurant out near the freeway for lunch.  I’ve never had Hot Pot and this way very cool; it’s one of the do-it-yourself food experiences with your own steaming bowl of spiced water.  Add the veggies, meat, etc…to cook and then eat with your rice.  Then when you think you are full, it becomes soup.  Anyway, it was a great lunch and gave us some time to catch up with Tyler and learn more about the festival and the goals of the film.  Once that was over, the nerves were setting in.  We made a quick jaunt to the outlets so all 3 of us ladies could find Tyler a new black sportcoat (success on sale), and then drove down into Park City.  We parked in one of the Sundance lots for $20 and caught the Temple shuttle easily.  The excitement was really building as it became apparent most of the folks on the bus were on their way to WATCH Tyler’s film.  These were the people who bought tickets!  The show was completely sold out weeks ago.

When we arrived Tyler introduced us to many people…film folks, Act Up folks, and friends.  At this point we were the entourage – seriously – we headed away from the main theater crowd, up the back stairway to the pre-party.  It was a small get together with all the people responsible for the film.  This is where the pictures happen!  It’s the room with the special Sundance backdrop for photography.  wow!  Tyler mingled, we chatted and got a soda, then took pictures.  It was just incredible to be at such a premier event – to be in the inner circle and see Tyler in his element.

As we entered the theater to get our seats we realized this was it!  How to Survive a Plague is an incredible story about the Act Up AIDS rights movement….how the gay community organized themselves, protested, and got their message heard until the government finally worked with them to get more funding for AIDS research and a quicker method for drug approval.  Without Act Up the aids epidemic would have continued to kill millions; now drugs are available though they are expensive.  The film got a standing ovation!  People had started applause even before it was completed.  So incredible to know my brother was Editor and Writer for this amazing story.  At that point there was a Q & A session for the director, David France, who surprised everyone by inviting to the front 4 people who were in the film!  We were all just amazed and honored that these people, who had fought so hard with Act Up, came to the premier.  He also called up the production team – so Tyler was up there as well!  David gave much credit to Tyler as a writer and editor for helping get the thousands of hours of raw footage into a cohesive story.  I’m just so proud of my brother – not just his editing skills and his ability to actually make a living in the film industry – but also for being involved in such an awe-inspiring topic. The film leaves you a bit emotionally drained; good and bad, happy and sad.  After all this we mingled in the lobby and chatted with people – before getting back on our shuttle.

Back at the car mom changed from her dress and I changed into snow boots so we could hop a different shuttle into Park City proper for an after party.  It was hosted by the Skywalker sound folks at on of the brewpubs.  My phone had died, so Rosalee, mom and I got a drink and parked ourselves near the kitchen by an outlet so it could charge.  Thist was great because we were able to grab the hors d’vours as they came out!  We had fun chatting while Tyler visited with his people….afterward he had a dinner to go to with just the production crew.  So, the 3 of us ladies walked across the street for some pizza, then wandered a few shops in Park City before giving in for the night.  We shuttled back to the freezing cold car and dropped Rosalee off before heading back to our hostel in Salt Lake.

Sundance Film Festival Day 1

As I got on the plane this morning in the dark at 6am, my gut feeling was that I was missing something. Yeh! Two things: Zoe and Avi. Plus, my carry-on feels completely empty with just a little laptop, a cord, and my calendar.
 There is extra space in there for – nothing!
What? No diapers, no toys, no crayons, no snacks… Oh wait… No snacks? ! Oops. That would’ve been nice. Now I get to sleep or read or stare out the window. The opportunities are endless, and what do I feel? I miss those guys. They really make travel an adventure. Now I have no one to point out the blindly lights for and no big heater/child on my lap to keep me warm. I guess I’ll buy a magazine in Atlanta. That should fill the void.

Well I spent an hour at the Atlanta airport searching for the USO only to finally figure that it’s outside security. Oh well I guess I got some exercise to burn of my chik-fil-a sandwich and Cinnabon.

Flight to salt lake was uneventful after a rough takeoff with lightening striking close enough to make me jump. The guy next to me was nice and we talked periodically … great not-awkward non-obligatory chatting. The best fun was playing InFlight trivia challenge. I won three times in a row against the other passengers. Then I cut my losses and went back to reading. Landing in Salt Lake was a bit bumpy – but mostly I noticed the giant cloud covering the city.  It barely started to rain as we walked off the jet and by the time I meandered to get my bags it was snowing – and then by the time I got my rental car it was huge flakes coming down in giant chunks.  Luckily I upgraded to an all wheel drive Ford Escape.  Took me about 5 minutes to remember how to drive in the snow.  Crazy deja-vu as I walked through the Salt Lake airport and then massive flashbacks as I drove out of the airport.  Oh how I recall my numerous trips in and out of this place ‘back in the day’. 

So mom is joining me this evening and has had her own adventure being driving all over PA only to have flights cancel and be rerouted twice.  She’ll be in tonight, thankfully!  Lots of texting throughout the day keeping tabs on who is where. To occupy my now-alone afternoon I went directly to the Sundance Ticket office and got my tix!!! woo hooo.  I’m super excited to see Tylers film. I popped in the adjacent grocery to grab some take out dinner for mom and then I bought snow boots – the accumulation since I got here has been about 4 inches!  Snow boots.  Yes.  I will be wearing those fashionable things around all the famous people at Sundance.

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