It may be the height of awards season, but for one weekend, Hollywood focused its attention on Park City, Utah, where the Sundance Film Festival parties began in earnest on Friday night. A slew of films had premieres, including “Strangerland” starring Nicole Kidman, “10,000 Saints” starring Ethan Hawke and Hailee Steinfeld, “Knock Knock” starring Keanu Reeves and “The D Train” starring Jack Black, James Marsden and Jeffrey Tambor. (The festival had kicked off Thursday night with the premiere of Netflix’s Nina Simone documentary “What Happened, Miss Simone?”
Each event is so carefully coordinated with the festival’s packed screening schedule, that given the scarcity of venues in the tiny ski town, parties are stacked in two-hour slots, meaning each restaurant, hotel suite or makeshift lounge sees a revolving door of stars.
Starting at 5:30 p.m. was a Chase Sapphire Preferred-hosted cocktail party for “The Overnight,” Patrick Brice’s cringe-inducing comedy starring Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godreche as two sets of parents navigating a beyond-awkward playdate. While Schilling wasn’t present and Godreche huddled among friends, the men worked the crowd solo. “My wife stayed in Los Angeles with our daughter,” said Schwartzman, who was just making a quick trip. Meanwhile, Scott was soliciting film recommendations from guests, since he’ll be at Sundance all week to promote a second film, “Sleeping With Other People.” “I’m still figuring out what to see. But tonight I’m really looking forward to going back to my hotel room and watching TV until I fall asleep. I’m not sure I’ll still be up for any midnight screenings,” he said. He came well-prepared, though. “Band of Outsiders gave me a pile of stuff to wear so I’ll be well-dressed.”
Farther up on Main Street, the cast of “Stockholm, PA,” a U.S. Dramatic Competition entry about a young woman who returns home after she’s abducted, filed into the Grey Goose Blue Door Lounge. First-time filmmaker Nicole Beckwith was still pinching herself. “I’ve never watched a movie next to its star; I mean, I’ve never made a movie before,” she said, clutching her lead actress Saoirse Ronan. “We got very close very quick and everything was very intense.” Said Ronan, “The point we were at in our lives personally was the perfect time for us to make a film like this together,” the actress said. “Between takes all the women in the crew [including Cynthia Nixon, who played her mother] would go into the dressing room and just talk. It was one of my first times having that experience as a young woman working with other women.”
A few blocks away at the Main & Sky Lodge, the Hollywood Foreign Press and The Hollywood Reporter threw a “Next Gen” party to celebrate the up-and-comers at the fest, most of whom looked too young to be served (there was plenty of water and Diet Coke going around). It didn’t mean they weren’t seasoned veterans, though. Tye Sheridan, who first came to Sundance with the “Mud” two years ago, has three premieres in a row this year. “Sometimes you get really lucky,” he said.