Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Memories and Mind-Expansion at Sundance 2013.

The most Hollywood time of year for Utah is January, when Sundance Film Festival takes over Park City.

I have a certain fondness for the fest. Not only have I covered it as press for the past six years, made valuable L.A. contacts (one even led to an audition as the host of ABC's "Wipeout"), and gained my footing executing live broadcasts from buzzing Main Street, but some of Chris and my earliest couple's moments happened secretly under the bright lights of the projector.

This was our first-ever 'couple's camera-phone pic,' taken at the Red Lion.
Though we never posted it on Facebook....
It's framed in our living room.
Last January, Chris and I had been seeing each other, but this was our first big, planned date. And we didn't even hit Park City; we just staycationed it downtown, hoping to stay under the radar (we figured when you work together, that's probably the way to go). The day couldn't have run smoother: We ate hummus at Mazza, had drinks at Desert Edge, scored some movie tickets at Trolley Square, watched Scandinavian-bodybuilder-seeks-Thai-wife drama, "Teddy Bear" at Tower Theater...

After that, we ate at Bourbon House and got a room downtown. In fact, we were having so much fun, we skipped our next two films to talk all lovey-dovey-like in the dim sports bar in the belly of the Red Lion, where we knew we'd avoid bumping into colleagues.

Then, this year - a few Facebook relationship status changes later (single - dating - MARRIED) - we experienced the "Park City" Sundance together, seeing movies and perusing Main St. Of the several movies we saw, two in particular stood out.

"Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer"
Nadia, Masha and Katia are Russian women - two of them, even wives and mothers - who believe women, and culture, should have a bigger voice amid the heavy hand of the Orthodox church and immovable government. They use bright masks and punk music to draw attention to their cause, and when they decided to perform in one of Moscow's most revered cathedrals (see video below), President Putin decided to make an example of them. The girls got locked away, strung along by vague charges, through years of imprisonment and trials. I was inspired by the way the girls didn't let imprisonment break them. They weren't scared of it, because they knew they were moving towards a goal  - a goal of progress in their country. How beautiful to witness that real, human resolve, and also, that the steadfast had faith that their "absurd" little act might influence the way Russia views women, and the sacred art of expression, in the future.

"The Moo Man" 
You've heard about the benefits of raw, organic milk, but what does it take to produce it? This documentary follows dairy farmer Stephen Hook as he cares for his 55 cows on his UK farm. The personal touch he lends to the care of these animals is endearing, even if the male cows are still castrated, and the females are still impregnated over and over again throughout their lifetime, in order to keep them producing milk...until they are spent, then sent to slaughter. However, Hook says when male calves are born - apparently useless animals to a dairy farm - he doesn't shoot them "when they're a day old, like other farms." Instead, he raises them for several years until they become fine, hand-raised meat product. There's one part where, as he's divvying up ribs, rump and roast, Hook is recalling the personality of the steer he has slaughtered. So, while it's sweet to see how Hook cares for his cows, and how he is struggling to stand up to factory farming, it's still a picture of why veganism is the only way to ensure total humane-ness when it comes to animal husbandry.

Press lounge hot chocolate bar. You try to turn down those 'mallows!
And it wasn't just the films that made me feel a greater sense of global connection, but also the eco-conscious environment in Park City this year. Not only was I being good to my body by avoiding alcohol and junk food (ok, I had a small cup of hot chocolate - I was craving marshmallows!), but I also picked up on some great messages about being aware.

Rad T-shirt, Main St. coffee shop

Importance of trees, and TreeUtah 
My sweetie and I lounge-hopping on Main Street.
So though I got a syrupy wink from Mario Lopez (he's going to make some guy a very lucky man someday), and got to prance around on-air at the celeb-studded, farm-to-table restaurant, The Farm at the Canyons, I really just enjoyed getting schooled in world issues with my darling movie-buff sweetheart. In fact, I'm carrying on the mind-expansion by watching Netflix-streaming doc, "The Business of Being Born," which pits hospitals against midwives (the statistics for healthy babies are through the roof with midwives!).

Tell me, what have you watched lately?

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