The first time I attended the Sundance festival was 2000 when a friend of mine had a film in the dramatic competition. And, in the great tradition of film festivals, I slept on the sofa of his hotel room, alongside several other friends who were crashing. Of course, since we were at Sundance, I didn't sleep very much between screenings and parties. I flew in one day, made the rounds that night, and then, quite groggy, left the next day.
My second trip to Sundance, I was the executive producer of Everyday People, a film written and directed by Jim McKay, which I had developed with HBO. This trip I had my own room! The film was very well received and I drank enough that the altitude in Park City made me happy a little too hard. It is perhaps why I had a terrible fight with my girlfriend at that time. So that premiere night lingers in memory as a crazy, bittersweet affair.
My third trip to Sundance was, I can say easily, almost a total triumph. A film I directed and scripted, Life Support, was selected to be the festival's closing night. It starred Queen Latifah in an amazing performance (she'd go on to win the Golden Globe and SAG Awards, and get nominated for an Emmy) in a story based on my sister's struggles with the HIV virus. The film got a standing ovation. I gave the best speech of my life, and I had a wonderful girlfriend by my side. Oh, and my cinematographer, my editor, and my assistant all crashed in my room, and a fun time was had by all. The only negative came the morning after the premiere, when Variety gave the film the only bad review it would receive.
Well, today I just found out I'll be having my fourth trip to that famous Utah festival. It was announced today that a documentary that I executive produced called Good Hair was selected to be in the documentary competition. Comic Chris Rock travels around America, and even as far as India, in order to try and understand the forces that shape the attitudes toward black women's hair. The film is really tragicomic; as we look at the cultural/social/economic forces that affect black women, Rock brings an amused but sympathetic eye to a world most men have no idea about.
So far, I have two folks angling for room on my sofa with a few more people putting out feelers. But since Chris Rock is coming, I figure he'll have a bigger room than me. So, if you come to Sundance in January, you may find me on Chris's surely extra-comfy sofa.