When the 28th annual Sundance Film Festival opens this weekend in Park City, Utah, some of its most anticipated films will chronicle corporate greed, economic plight and, of course, Occupy Wall Street. From Finding North, Tom Colicchio’s documentary about hunger in America, to Queen of Versailles, Lauren Greenfield’s movie about a Florida real estate developer’s failed quest to build a 90,000 square-foot, personal state-side Versailles, to Nicholas Jarecki’s feature film Arbitrage, starring Richard Gere as a troubled hedge fund manager, the official film schedule will stand in stark relief against its unofficial scene: the parties.
According to Christopher Ryan, the talent manager in charge of the Sundance party list, this year’s Sundance will see nearly 100 more events this year than last year. With dozens of new corporate sponsors descending on Park City to create the biggest event spaces in the festival’s history, and venues like STK and Tao opening pop-up spots to rival the real thing, one can only hope the films’ frightening forecast isn’t. We interviewed Chris Ryan to hear his top picks for opening weekend.
How do you come up with the list and who gets it?
First I go through all the films and see who the talent is, then I go to their publicists and find out what events they’re doing for the talent, and then build out a list of that. I send it to select actors, directors, publicists and press and they get great marketing out of it.
How is the 2012 party schedule different than last year’s?
It’s much bigger than last year. Last year there were 270 listings and this year it’s already at 350 and I still haven’t included two lounges on that list. Maybe the economy is recovering, or brands are looking to spend money. It’s not hard to spend $50,000 on an event and get enough filmmakers and media there to make it worth it.
Where did those extra 100 events come from? Who’s new on the scene?
A lot of sponsors who dropped out in recent years have returned, like GenArt came back with the Bertolli Meal Soup Chalet. Sundance’s official sponsors are hosting new events. And the Fender Music Lodge moved to a bigger center. Axe Hair Media Center and Groom Room is all new. And Issey Miyake Sport is new and sponsoring The Supper Club. There are new vendors in the Village at the Lift, like the Miami Board of Tourism. There are also new corporate-sponsored houses on promontory point, like the Sundance Collective, who are all hosting private events and dinners.
Where will all the celebrities be during the day? Where do you go to people watch?
Good hangout spots during the day will be the Fender Music Lodge, where live music will play all day long and there will be Chopin Vodka and Monster Energy drinks, and the Miami Oasis at the Village, where there will Patron drinks. The Element Electronics Apres Ski House and the Axe Media Center will also be full of celebrities.
Which evening events have the hottest tickets so far?
The exclusive cast dinner parties are all really good, like the Supper Suite at the Montage on Friday night. The HBO party on Sunday night at the LIVEstyle Film Lounge will be a hard one to get into. The 7 for All Mankind party at the Bertolli Meal Soup Chalet is always really good too. Then after-hours at the new STK space, Hyde and Goodnight Gansevoort will be the toughest places to go. Then, the TAO space is really cool because they use the lift parking lot and redecorate it to look like Tao Vegas. Most of the celebrities will be around the Village at the Lift or the Supper Clubs that Issey Myake Sport is hosting. Then Bing has some pretty good acts performing in their space on Main Street. They just added a third floor so it will be one of the bigger venues.
Photo © Brandon Perlman