I finally went to the Sundance Film Festival.
I mean, to the film screening at Michigan Theater downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan – not to Park City, Utah.
On Jan. 26th, from 7:30 pm, the film “For a Good Time, Call…” was shown in the main auditorium. After the film, the film director and the actresses showed up for the Q&A sessions.
I made a last-minute decision to go. I purchased a ticket via Ticketmaster online. The only choice I had was purchase on Will Call. The Will Call means I would have to pick up the ticket at the theater within one hour before the film starts. I called the theater the day before. They said there would be a long line (as there was last year).
I did not want to wait freezing outside in a long line, so i arrived early, being somewhat anxious, at 6 pm. There was no long line at all. I could pick up the ticket very easily. I did not want to wait inside the theater for an hour, so I went to the nearby Starbucks to kill time. Around 7 pm, I went back and entered the theater. Inside, there was a pretty big crowd already.
More people started arriving around 7 pm.
You have to buy pop corn and drink – big waiting line. The staff are wearing bow ties. Very cool.
I got a Balcony seat for $23.75 – not cheap.
Plus I had to pay for parking $3.75 (I always park in the parking structure nearby).
$27.50 in total.
Isn’t it a little too expensive just to see one movie?
Michigan Theater is usually not expensive (around $10). Maybe because Sundance Film Festival is special? Oh well.
Indeed, it is more like an opera house or a musical theater than a movie theater.
This is a brass drinking fountain in the lobby. OMG!
For a prelude, the guy played the famous pipe organ; Michigan Theater is known for this pipe organ made in 1920s for this theater (you see on the left in the center). It sounds great. It’s really worth coming to Michigan Theater just to hear the pipe organ.
He played the famous theme song of the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”. This movie was a breakthrough for Robert Redford, who launched the Sundance Film Festival.
This song, “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”, makes certain generations of Japanese, including me, feel nostalgic, too.
The movie was made in 1969. It was years later that I saw the movie for the first time. I saw it in a cheap movie theater in Japan which ran (recycled) old movies for very low prices. This kind of movie theaters really helped broke students like me. So, technically, this song is not representative of my houth; it’s for a generation who are more than ten years older than me. But I still feel this is one of the songs of my younger years. You must have a few songs like that for yourself, too.
By the way, in my home country, Japan, they often change the titles of the overseas movies when they distribute them domestically. Why? Can’t explain. The titles just would not sound cool to the Japanese’ ears. So they think up titles that will sound good to the Japanese sense. The title they gave this movie was, “Shoot (your guns) Towards Future” (literally translated). This translation was great, I think – it helped sell the movie greatly. It was a big hit in Japan.
Why does a title like “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” sell to the Americans? It’s beyond my understanding no matter how many years I live in the U.S. It’s one of those differences in culture and language, I guess.
I have seen many other American movies with the titles which amzed me, “how in the world do Americans want to go see a movie with a title like this?” Not surprisingly, when they were distributed in Japan, they were under different titles made up by the Japanese movie distributors.
Cute silhouettes of snow flakes on the walls made me feel as if I were in a movie theater in a ski resort in Utah.
Wait for the show, admiring the beautiful ceiling.
Finally, the auditorium is full and the director of Michigan Theater and the film director appear on the stage.
The film director is from Toronto, Canada. The audience is very happy to hear that the director is from somewhere near (Toronto is only 4 or 5 hours of drive from here).
After the film showing, the directors appear again. This time the two starring actresses also appear for Q&A sessions.
The actresses are witty and cheerful. Many questions from the audience – Americans are in general not shy at all to speak out in a situation like this. The audience gets more and more excited.
Sundance Film Festival is a great opportunity for somebody with no connections with Hollywood to enter the movie business. I wonder if these two actresses will be in Hollywood movies sometime soon?
View from the first floor.
The auditorium was almost full – that means almost 1,700 people came.
The movie was very well-made.
I could not understand a lot of what they were saying (as I am not a native English speaker), but it was that kind of movie with the plot I could follow without understanding everything they say.
It was targeted for people in their 20s and early 30s. For middle-age people like me, it was..uh…OK…I guess. People who go to film festivals are young, so, of course filmmakers want to make films targeted to young people.
This film had been bought by a distribution company – good for them!
I hear that many movie distributors come to the main venues in Utah and hang out in the lobbies, ready to make offers to good ones.
About 10,000 films are submitted to Sundance Film Festival annually, and only dozens of them are made offers by the distributors. Talk about a fierce competition!
The usher gave me this – a thick and beautiful magazine for free!
The publisher is the Sundance Institute, a non-profit organization founded by Robert Redford. It’s packed with information that will surely attract young people who are interested in going into film business. They are well funded that they can give away beautiful magazines like this!
In the first pages, there is a big photo of Redford – he looks as great as before — wait! How old is this photo?
In the 1970s, he was one of the best-looking actors. He was very popular in Japan, too.
This photo (in the right page) is definitely more recent. He is in his 70s, but he seems very active – very inspiring for the younger generations, including me.
By the way, the director of Michigan Theater, Mr. Russ Collins, is like a local celebrity. He has been a regular of the radio (WEUM) program “Cinema Chat” for years.
I wrote a post about Michigan Theater. If you are interested, Michigan Theater, please check out Michigan Theater, the Great.
Michigan Theater was chosen for one of the 9 screening venues outside Utah for 2 years in a row. There is no guarantee that it will be chosen again, so I decided to go this year, putting pressure on myself (when you are middle-aged, you don’t feel like going outside your home much any more).
It was a fun winter festival.
The audience seemed very proud and excited that their local theater was selected for a venue.
I think this is a very good idea to show films in other places beyond Utah. This way people feel they are participating in the film festival. Many people can’t afford to travel to Utah, especial young people who are ironically more interested in film festivals than older ones who have more money. This is localization, and they should benefit from the localization, i.e. there will be more fans of Sundance Film Festival. The festival may keep growing – I would not be surprised if it is expanded to Tokyo, Shanghai, etc. in the future; it is already expanding to London this spring).