I do believe my Alta pass has dust on it. Now, with this huge storm system that just rolled through the Wasatch, I can’t decide what’s more epic. Skiing or kicking off Sundance. Ah, the dilemma. The invites rolled in by the minute. The other side of the Sundance Film Festival- the non-film side- occupies so much space in Park City the first weekend of the event that you wonder if there really are films to watch.
There are “official sponsors” of the SFF that set up ‘suites’ and ‘lounges’ around town so the public and Festival passholders can wander in and sip cocoa, and then there are the underground guerilla companies that occupy Main Street businesses with glamorous VIP gifting and party events and a great big bouncer who refuses to acknowledge you without the secret password (usually the name of the event planner). One year, I watched the Dude from The Big Lebowski- and I mean the real Dude who the film was made about- get denied. He lost it on the security guard and still wasn’t admitted into the House of Hype. Just goes to show, it’s not who you are, but who you know.
Sundance was never just about film; it’s music, art, technology, celebrity and film. The entire Festival celebrates the independent voice so it’s not so crazy to see small chic beauty and fashion companies sidle up to the Hollywood-style event. What happens is a marketing or publicity firm rents a space or house somewhere near the action, then offers their clients the opportunity to display their wares in a section inside to personally introduce their products to VIPs and the media. The goal is for short and long-term exposure. These special guests (most often people with films in Sundance but they can also be publicists, musicians, and reality TV stars) get ushered in and moved around to meet, greet and have their photo doing a Vanna White with a particular product. The photos are later Tweeted, Facebooked and attached to press releases to be gobble up by People Magazine et al. Same goes for the evening parties. Almost every film at Sundance has a cast dinner and afterparty. The town rocks until 2 a.m. and over the past few years party organizers have caught on that not only will they make extra cash but garner good karma by opening up the parties and concerts to locals. It’s like the 2002 Winter Olympics all over again but for four days instead of three weeks.
After this Tuesday, most of the lounges will revert to their old scene. Like the circus leaving town, so goes the madness. Therefore, you better head up to Park City this weekend if you want to catch celebrities walking the streets with bursting shopping bags of clever goodies while the paparazzi nip at their heels.
Here’s the tentative guestlist:
Susan Sarandon, Mario Lopez, Rashida Jones, Terrell Owens, Annalynne Mccord, Elizabeth Olsen, Christina Hendricks, Carrie Preston, Stephanie Pratt, David Blaine, Kristen Bell, James Tupper, James Marsden, Paris Hilton, Nicky Hilton, Bai Ling, Jamie Chung, Jason Ritter, Jeff Shroeder, Lake Bell, Michael Cera, Danny Masterson, Natasha Beddingfield, Shayne Lamas, Anne Heche, Ryan Phillipe, Lil Jon, Michael Emerson, Jon Heder, Edward James Olmos, Laura Prepon, Lil’ Jon, Nia Vardalos, Paul Simon, Andie McDowell, Allison Janney, David Blaine (Magician), James Tupper (Revenge), James Valentine (Lead Guitarist, Maroon 5), Keith A. Fox (Producer, The Office/30 Rock), William H. Macy, Traci Lords, Helen Hunt, Donna Karan, five-time NBA All Star Chris Webber,Jon Heder, Chelsie Hightower (“Dancing with the Stars”), Lou Diamond Phillips, Richard Gere, Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, Keri Russell, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bruce Willis, Joshua Jackson, Parker Posey, Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Liv Tyler, and Olivia Wilde.
And here are the best spots to spot them:
The city of Miami and the Beaches is a title sponsor in one of the largest VIP hub of Sundance – The T-Mobile Village at the Lift/Miami Oasis –to hype their own upcoming film festival. The “Miami Oasis” will incorporate live DJ performances, tattoo artists, hair care stations by göt2b POWDER’ful, complimentary cocktails and gifting.
The whole Town Lift area at the bottom of Main Street transforms into its own little village. This two-story, 30,000 square foot venue celebrates its 10th Anniversary with a café, nightclub, restaurant, portrait studio, and special event interview site.
By day, the Stella Artois café serves up free breakfast and lunch. By night, the T-Mobile/Google Concert Series will showcase Bad Rabbits,
Vintage Trouble and The Whigs, G-Side and Chancellor Warhol, The Civil Wars and Feather & Belle from 7-10 p.m.,then a satellite TAO nightclub converts the 5,000-square-foot underground parking garage under the Town Lift into one of the best party spots of the weekend.
The Bing Bar, the search engine from Microsoft, will take over the empty space once known as the Claim Jumper Hotel. For the third year and on three floors, the Bing Bar will host exclusive film premiere after-parties, press junkets, The Bing Speaker Series, SPIN Sessions (a daily music happy hour), musical performances from Friday, January 20 to Tuesday, January 24. Drake, Cobra Starship, Wiz Khalifa, Jason Mraz, Theophilus London, and James Murphy will be performing. The Bing Speaker Series will bring in guests from Catherine Zeta-Jones to newly awakened
snowboarder Kevin Pearce. Bing plays mountain concierge, handing out essential cold-weather items like sweatshirts, gloves and blankets, ski lift passes, rides around town, movie screening tickets, and more. Connect with the Bing Bar concierge on Twitter using #TeamBing to enter exclusive giveaways. And don’t worry if you can’t gain entry. Bing will stream their events live at www.bing.com/community.
Talent Resources is bringing the TR Suites to Sundance again. They’ll be inside the Gateway Center and next to another fabulous hotspot- Kari Feinstein’s Style Lounge. TR will have some interesting selections including the Teaologist, DL1961 denim, Prasad Cosmetic Surgery and Medi Spa, Matt Bernson Shoes, Rachel Roy and Judith Jack jewelry, Contraband hats, SHRD (the most amazing hair crème ever), while the Style Lounge has Cape Cod Leathers, Commonwealth Proper men’s clothing, Koolaburra boots, Paul Frank, Rusdak coats. The Style Lounge will also feature the Style ‘food’ Closet of Icelandic Glacial, Milk n Krunchies, Nuvo Sport and Popcorn, Indiana.
Invited guests can grab a Vida Tequila cocktail at the Sundance Chic Suite in Flight Boutique on Main while gathering gifts from Wildfox, Plush Apparel, Tocca, Everyday Minerals, BB Dakota/Jack, NCLA Nail Lacquer, and Discreet Headwear.
Wonder what happened to Harry O’s? They got booted last summer but the Sundance concert legacy lives on. Making its Sundance debut is The VEVO PowerStation & SOREL Suite/Fresh Lounge/”Goodnight Gansevoort at The ONE Group House.” Whew. That’s a mouthful. The “one-stop-shop” for celebrities, independent filmmakers, festival attendees and media will offer stylish winter boots with laser-customized lace plates by SOREL, beauty treatments, food, cocktails, charging stations and internet. At night, there will be movie premiere dinners, cocktail parties and concerts. LMFAO & House of Party Rock play on Saturday, DeadMau5 on Sunday and Drake on Monday.
Two venues are making themselves accessible to the general public. Timberland Lounge, the official footwear and outerwear sponsor of Sundance (four years running) will showcase a selection of waterproof boots and accessories across the street from Mary Jane’s boutique. Timberland wants consumers to commit to the environment through on-site activities, contests and online activations via Twitter and Facebook. Festival-goers can pledge “Random Acts of Earthkeeping” – the small things they do each day to minimize their impact on the environment – and pose for photos with your favorite green activity prop for a chance to win a limited-edition Timberland scarf. Then on Sunday, Timberland will host a special event inside Mary Jane’s (613 Main Street), from 4 – 6 p.m. Hors d’oeuvres and cocktails will be served to the public, free of charge.
On a chilly Utah day, nothing warms better than a free cup of Bertolli soup. Anyone can come in, sit down on a heated chair, throw over a blanket and sip at the Bertolli Meal Soup Chalet at the Sky Lodge. VIPs get luxury skincare treatments courtesy of Lumene, sunglasses from Solstice, exclusive invites to the after-dark special events.
The Alive! Expo Green Pavilion/MixMedia Luxury Lounge at the Wild Spirits Nature Photography Gallery proposes consciousness at Sundance. The exclusive eco-luxury gifting suite will have eco-friendly gifts, displays and foods like Aubrey Organics Hair, Skin & Bodycare; ShelRae Jewelry, Phytomar USA Marine Plankton Skin & Bodycare; Fashion Hope with Tembo Trading Company, Kiondo Bags, Prophetic fashion, Earth Friendly household cleaners, Sparklehearts body products for girls, Vitamin Water, Redmond Sea Salt, Mane N Tale shampoos, Bari Olive Oil, and you get the idea.
This longstanding suite is huge. It will benefit Project Green is a 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to invest in a ‘Greener Tomorrow’.
Another socially conscious suite- the Eco Hideaway Music Saves Lives Lounge – will set up shop all the way up at the Stein Eriksen Lodge. Sustainable film and television producer Debbie Durkin hosts an invitation-only private hospitality respite showcasing eco-luxury lifestyle brands like Minky Couture blankets, Sonas denim, Sandast’s vintage handbags, and Leisure Society eyewear. Top that off with complimentary mini-spa services, live acoustic music performances, and a chef’s station serving breakfast all day, and you may never want to go back to Main Street.
Those celebs looking for snow-related gifting will drop into the Burton Apres Lounge at the base of Park City Mountain Resort and the Oakley/Hyde Lounge at the Downstairs bar. Guests will have the once in a lifetime opportunity to learn to snowboard with some of the world’s top ranked pro athletes as well as product test gear from the two brands.
Grey Goose Vodka will host five nights of private cast dinners and cocktail parties at their invite-only lounge- Grey Goose Blue Door– inside the McCarthey Gallery. Guests will get to taste their newest flavor- Grey Goose Cherry Noir.
“Festival After Dark” is brought to you by Sugar. The evening concert series will feature DJs and live performances for all ten days in the venue formerly known as the Star Bar. Mary J. Blige, Estelle, Common, Kendrick Lamar, Sebastian Ingrosso and Nas are scheduled to perform at the 6,300 sq. foot contemporary event space.
Ok, it’s decided. I’ll ski Monday. Let’s get this party started!