Ambiance and Ambivalence at New Direc– Aw, Screw It All, Let’s Get Hammered.
After drinking sake with Armond White, joshing with A.O. Scott and seeing a couple pretty-darn-good movies, I felt pretty content with my experience writing for New Directors/New Films, solid in the knowledge that I’d had a few adventures, laughs, et cetera. However, apparently this was not enough for the editorial staff who decided, with the precision of moving plastic soldiers in a game of Risk, to throw me in to the one situation I wasn’t prepared for:
“Just make sure I don’t get too drunk too fast,” I told my friend. I thought for a second. “Or too slow.”
The Directors’ After-Party for the New Directors/New Films Festival was held Sunday night at Josephina, a classy New-American joint with organic-natural themes, the sort of place that seems smart and doesn’t do too bad either. People filed in from on early, starting at around 8:30 and a burst of unexpected rain seemed not to deter them.
As for the atmosphere, it was a difficult for me to discern who was who. Unlike Cannes or Sundance, ND/NF is a “working” festival; the people here aren’t on vacation. They see their films and then go home or go to work or back to their lives. Thus, there’s not a lot of opportunity for socializing before-hand in a small community like Park City, where the parties go on for nights.
Instead though, you manage to get an interesting cast of characters gathered from around the city’s film scene in one place. Given my singular ignorance, I was fortunate to run into a figure from my school, the well-connected-and-witty Jeremiah Newton, who volunteered to point out to me various figures, including film critics, directors, distributors and movie-house owners.
Still, the directors were hard to pick out, something that can be testified by the most common question asked to me that evening (“Do you have a film in the festival?”), to which I could only shake my head and grit my teeth, identifying myself as a lowly blogger. Still stranger were the times one managed to actually locate a director. Sterlin Harjo of Barking Water, a Native American road movie, was a nice guy, but after talking to him about the dearth of money for Native American cinema and Chris Eyre’s career, he was surrounded by his friends back from the buffet and I had to move.
A man I later found out was Vladimir Kott, of the Russian family comedy The Fly, said “yes” when I asked him if he was a director, but that was just about all the English he spoke.
“What film?” I asked enthusiastically.
“Zeflai,” he responded.
We had a stand-still, for a moment, at the buffet.
“I have, uh, translator,” he said as he returned to getting food and turned away from me.
But all in all, I had a pretty good time, which I suppose is the point of these after-parties. Learning how to duck the Key-Lime-Tart Vodka-Drink offered and find your way to a glass of Merlot or a Whiskey Sour proved a good skill to learn and I even had some street cred with people coming up to me about my interview with Armond.
“Free booze, free food. Some good movie talk. I’ll take it in a flagging economy,” a fellow student told me.
“Come on,” I told my date. “My ears are turning red, along with the rest of my body.”
And then home.
-Nicholas Feitel, ND/NF New Voice
All photos by Susan Sermoneta.