Sundance Film Festival 2017! Food for the Soul & Whiskey Cocktail!
This January, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the 2017 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. It was FABULOUS!
Let’s go back to last July when I went to Rancho La Puerta. I told you all about it and shared two recipes – Electrolyte Smoothie & Rancho Special Sweet Coffee. I also met two great women, Sherry Beacham & Tiffany Knowlton, a mom and daughter duo who are true movie buffs. I was hiking when I met Sherry and we realized we shared a love for movies AND the Academy Awards. Once she heard about about my cookbook and general Oscar excitement, we were bonded as friends! She extended an invitation to head to Sundance with her, Tiffany, and their friend Simone Oliver. I was IN!
We kicked off our adventure with the WILSON premiere party on our first night! The movie’s stars, Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, and Judy Greer were in attendance and really warm. Oh and the movie is SPECTACULAR! It will be in theaters near you on March 24th.
Over the next week, we saw over 20 films and participated in as many Q & A’s that included the casts, writers, directors, and producers! I admit my fandom when I see Shirley MacLaine RIGHT THERE! Kevin Bacon! John Lithgow! Kathryn Hahn! Griffin Dunne! Salma Hayek! Toni Colette! Paul Rudd! Molly Shannon! The list goes on and on.
I’m not usually a documentary person but the ones I saw are IMPORTANT! UNREST explores the debilitation of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at it’s ugliest yet it’s a hopeful and wonderful story by Jennifer Brea. THE GOOD POSTMAN is a documentary that feels like a fiction feature and covers a mayoral election in a small town on the border of Bulgaria that not only seems to be stagnant, but is a popular place for refugees to cross. Very timely. NOBODY SPEAK: HULK HOGAN, GAWKER, AND TRIALS OF A FREE PRESS was one I wasn’t very interested in at first but the girls got tickets so off we went. It astounded me. I think they edited it up until the second it premiered. It’s America’s most vital “Must See” in the present climate.
What I thought was a movie turned out to be an Amazon series called I Love Dick starring Kathryn Hahn, Kevin Bacon, and Griffin Dunne. It releases on May 12 but they’re previewing the first episode for free right now! ‘Nuff said – check it out – CRACK UP!
Shirley MacLaine stars with Amanda Seyfried in THE LAST WORD which is out in limited release right now! The trailer seems like it’s mainstream and pedestrian but it’s not – really fabulous.
THE BIG SICK is a Judd Apatow feature that stars Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano, and Holly Hunter and is based on Kumail’s real love story that is both funny and dark and very relevant with Ray Romano & Holly Hunter stealing the show. It’s opening June 23!
Another timely movie that blew me away was BEATRIZ AT DINNER starring Salma Hayek, Chloë Sevigny, Connie Britton, Jay Duplass, John Lithgow, Amy Landecker, and John Early. It was acquired by Roadside Attractions so hopefully it will be released soon. Salma plays Beatriz, a masseuse and New-Age healer. When her car breaks down at her upscale client’s home, she’s invited to stay for dinner and it’s fascinating!
America churns out the greatest movies but my hat is off to these astounding films. GOD’S OWN COUNTRY is a story that follows the transformation of a seemingly defeated 25-yr-old sheep farmer in the bleak Yorkshire countryside who must work with a Romanian migrant worker hired to get through the lambing season. Francis Lee’s film is stark but rich and simply amazing. Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu are not only fabulous in the film but were a lot of fun, with Francis, at the Awards Party!
MY HAPPY FAMILY is a film from Georgia that brings us to the life of Manana who decides to move into her own flat, leaving her parents, husband, and young-adult kids who all live in one small 3-bedroom home. Her emancipation is exhilarating! Everyone can relate to her “break out”.
The movie I found to be perfect and… well… I don’t have the words for it, it’s that good is I DREAM IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE (SUEÑO EN OTRO IDIOMA). A linguist arrives in a remote Mexican jungle to record the last 3 people in the world who speak Zikril. This sparks old feuds, old loves, new loves, and well, sheer cinematic magic. I am eager to see it again. It makes me happy just thinking of it as I write.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t share all the films I saw so here’s a list with links to check them out.
- THE INCREDIBLE JESSICA JAMES: Loved!!!! Jessica Williams and Chris O’Dowd rock this funny, smart movie! It was acquired by Netflix so I expect we’ll see it soon!
- THE DISCOVERY: So compelling! Robert Redford (the festival’s “father”), Jason Segal, and Rooney Mara star in this movie set to hit Netflix on March 31st.
- THE HERO: Sam Elliott is just dreamy no matter what he does and how old he gets. In this role, he is an aging star who hasn’t had a hit of late who gets news that catapults his life. Great performances by Laura Prepon and Nick Offerman!
- MANIFESTO: Cate Blanchett plays 13 different roles and in each, she declares the most emotional and influencial artist manifestos. I just saw her on triumph on Broadway – there’s nothing she can’t do.
- COLUMBUS: If you love architecture, this is your movie. A man’s dad is in a coma in a mid-western town and he strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young woman. It’s a soft, conversational film with the ever-great Parker Posey.
- CROWN HEIGHTS: Amazon scooped up this true story about Colin Warner, a man from Crown Heights in Brooklyn NY, who was wrongfully convicted of murder and the people in his life who tirelessly worked to free him.
- INGRID GOES WEST: What happens when an off-balance instagram-driven young woman moves West to become friends with her latest obsession? A lot! There’s something about Aubrey Plaza’s Ingrid that makes you champion her and want to smack her silly. Elizabeth Olsen is wonderful as Taylor. I’m not sure if it’s a cautionary tale or a triumph. That alone makes it worth a watch.
- FUN MOM DINNER: Toni Collette, Molly Shannon, Bridget Everett, and Katie Aselton in one wacky movie! What a lot of fun. I’d go to dinner with them anytime! I believe it’s headed for Netflix so be on the look-out.
- THE CHANCES: Best friends Kate & Michael, who are deaf, navigate the ups and downs of her marriage and his relationships in this fresh series. Deaf people navigating the world in a fun and quirky way has not been explored in entertainment. This show doesn’t address it in a sympathetic way but instead, as a matter of fact where the stories are the focus. I don’t know if it got picked up but I hope so.
- GENTE-FIED: This is a series that shows the effects of gentrification on a Latino neighborhood in Los Angeles, CA. It shows the pros & cons and the struggle for existence of the old while there is also the swell of rejuvenation from the new.
- STRANGERS: After a bad break-up, Isobel rents out a room in her house on AirBnb and explores her life through the people she meets. I’m not sure where this will air but it’s got a strong cast and good stories.
After ALL THAT sitting and watching, we were hungry and Park City did not disappoint. There was full-out deliciousness at 35o Main Bistro, Bistro 412 American Bistro, Shabu Freestyle Asian Cuisine, and Silver Star Cafe. My complete favorite was The Farm at Canyons. Not only was the food impeccable but the presentation was a show-stopper. Below, from left to right, Beef Tenderloin, Koosharem Steelhead Trout, Artichoke & Sunchoke Linguini, and Roasted Beets Salad.
We had a great time at High West Distillery & Saloon. The atmosphere was lively and that perfect level of rustic you expect in such a town. They are known for their excellent whiskeys, which are lovely, but also they have quite the yummy menu! We all had the Chicken Pot Pie, made with wild mushrooms, roasted tomato, and root vegetables, which was a tasty twist to the traditional dish.
Although I enjoy a cozy cocktail, I can’t think of when I ever ordered a whiskey of any sort. But there was something about being at High West that had me craving one. And then again, it would be downright awful not to sample their wares. I ordered The Gold, Glory & God and was so good – High West’s American Prairie Bourbon, PX Sherry, Oloroso Sherry, Punt e Mes, and Allspice Dram. That warmed my heart for sure and has started a trend where I have been sampling whiskey drinks when I’ve been out. Thanks High West!
My adventure to Park City was incredible. The Sundance Institute does an AMAZING job wrangling all the movie selections, the members, the attendees, and well, the whole darn thing!
The movies, the restaurants, the people, the movie buffs, the landscape, the whole thing – A+! Not only did I indulge my love of movies in a very specific “insider” way, which I love, but I got to spend time with the best of new friends. My forever thanks to Sherry for her gracious invitation. It never occurred to me to go to this or any other film festival but now I’m hooked. I’m a New Yorker and there are major festivals here all the time – you can bet I’ll be at the Tribeca Film Festival next month!
And there’s a lesson in there, gang. I never thought I’d be going to a film festival in Utah when I was hiking along Mt. Kuchumaa in July. When you pursue adventures that give you pure joy, it can lead to meeting fabulous people that bring you to your next adventure! And so on and so on…