• Festivals

Sundance 2016 : Slip Slidin’ To The Parties

Only Cannes has more events than Sundance. A serious party hopper could easily start around 3pm every day and not get home until a good 12 hours later. It seems that every film had its own premiere after-party, every sponsor their own celebration and even upcoming projects held some sort of pre-reception. The big party crush always happens over the first weekend when everyone of note (and some of not so note) descends on Park City and Main Street is so crowded that it looks like the 405 at rush hour, only with pedestrians.

To bring you all the pertinent info, we attended some of the more ‘important’ events.

Sting gave a performance at the Music Lodge and the lines were longer than at the Deer Valley ski lift during the Worldcup. This, despite the heavy snow that wouldn’t let up. Many could not get in and ended up at the panel for the series Underground in the hopes that producer John Legend would consider sitting at the piano and humming a few tunes. Unlike last year, when he delighted Sundancers with an impromptu performance after the Nina Simone documentary, this time Legend stayed put. Instead of playing he spoke eloquently about the series and attendees kept warm and cozy with good drinks and snacks.

That same night Starz celebrated their premiere of The Girlfriend Experience at the Wasatch Brew Pub with breakout star Riley Keough in attendence. Elvis Presley’s granddaughter had not one but two projects at the festival. Producer Steven Soderbergh was nowhere to be seen but Spike Lee popped in briefly.

A few doors down HBO held a fabulous dinner at new restaurant Tupelo for Kerry Washington and director Rick Famuyima and their upcoming film Confirmation. A very exclusive group of guests dined on steak and grilled trout and walked away with some good swag. The gifts being given away at the Captain Fantastic afterparty included a green knit hat with the movie title on it that subsequently showed up on the heads of snowboarders and skiers during the following days. The whole cast was on hand, including producer and star Viggo Mortensen who hung out with the kids who played his children in the film. Overzealous security kicked out the last guests at 1am since the venue, the Sky & Acura Lounge, had to be prepared for the following morning’s press activities. No matter: by then both drink options – beer and tequila – had run out and whoever wasn’t drunk enough headed up the street to one of the nightly (and rowdy) Slamdance parties.

Rider on the storm: in freezing temperatures, Harvey Weinstein hosts his football party in a t-shirt.

HFPA/Elisabeth Sereda

Sunday afternoon, while the snow was still falling heavily, Harvey Weinstein invited football fans and people who just wanted to stay inside to watch the game in the large Samsung Lounge at the bottom of Main Street. Harvey seemed to be the only one unaffected by the temperature and hosted the party in a t-shirt. Brooklyn Decker along with many others enjoyed the crispy chicken wings, calzone and pulled pork sandwich while watching Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos kick the New England Patriots (and Tom Brady’s) butt to advance to the Superbowl. Harvey headed straight from his own party to the premiere of Indignation but it was Lionsgate that closed the deal on the film only a few hours later while director James Schamus and star Sarah Gadon celebrated at the Stella Artois Lounge. Sting and wife Trudy Styler meanwhile watched Sing Street and celebrated with the cast later at posh Italian restaurant Grappa.

A24 invited guests to a small dinner for Green Room at Cafe Terigo, one of the festival’s oldest and loveliest locations where the lemon-asparagus risotto was such a hit that the kitchen had to make not one but two fresh batches.

It's a tough life for a Sundance partygoer, with long lines, inclement weather and icy sidewalks. Totally worth it, though.

HFPA/Elisabeth Sereda

There were more small dinners than rousing fetes at the festival this year with the exception of a huge Louisiana Film Festival reception that started at 2:30pm with a Mardi Gras parade up and down Main Street and ended late with blues music and seafood gumbo and beignets.

Party hopping proved treacherous with people slip sliding up and down the street in often ridiculous footwear more fit for an outing in West Hollywood than wintery Utah. The snow turned into slush on the weekend and into ice during the last six days when temperatures dropped below zero. But even the weather and minor injuries could not deter the serious party animals from missing an event.

(See more party goodness, check out our gallery)