Sundance Film Festival 2010

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Founder Robert Redford makes the opening remarks at Sundance. (Pic by Peter Kramer)

Park City, Utah, this year was filled with Chicagoans who had come to party and attend the 20th Sundance Film Festival. Kristina McGrath and her twin sister, Korinna Isselhardt, hosted a girls' winter getaway for 10 women that included Heather Farley, Toni Canada, Lynn McMahan, Jan Flanagan, Nina Mariano and her California friends Tami Kahn and Joni D'Amato and moi.

Kristina made fantastic lunch and dinner plans at all of the local hot spots such as Riverhorse Café, Café Terego, Wahso, Grappa, St. Regis Hotel and the Glitretind Restaurant at the Stein Eriksen Lodge. She hosted a cocktail party at her home one evening that included Brenda Sexton, Julee White, Carrie Birkel, Greg Nye, Sean Eshagy, Denis Healy, Richie Rinella and Mike McGrath, Jr.

There were other parties over the weekend including "The 4th Annual Chicagoans at Sundance Party" (that attracted around 150 guests) and was hosted by Denis Healy, Brenda and Julee at Stein's on Saturday. Other guests who attended included Jonathan Bross, Les Coney, Kim Kline, Lyn McKeaney, Robin Robinson, Scott Schroeder, Billy Dec, Sylvia Perez, Bryan Glazer (Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner), Mike McNamara, Dr. Warwick Carter (Columbia College), Lance Chody (owner of Garrett's Popcorn) and Todd Lizak among others. After this party, guests including Mayor Daley's nephew, RJ Vanecko, went to Harry O's and saw Joan Jett perform.

Thursday was the first day of the festival and the streets filled dramatically overnight with camera crews. The theme this year was "RE...Remind, Rebel and Renew" and the screen before every film began with "This is the recharged fight against the establishment of the expected. This is the rebirth of the battle for brave new ideas."

The restaurants even change their way of operating for this occasion by only offering prix fixe dinners. One waitress put it this way, "It costs you $75 just for a seat."

Sundance attracts around 20,000 year round residents and jumps to 75,000 during the film fest. On average, 10,000 movies are submitted to the Festival judges who narrow it down to around 1000 films. They use around 10-15 venues around town to preview the movies and Sundance and Park City benefit to the tune of around $20 million dollars. No wonder Robert Redford is the local hero!

Celebs in attendance this year included Ben Affleck and Tommy Lee Jones (appearing in "The Company Men"), Chris Cooper, Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray, Robert Duvall and his wife Luciana, Amanda Peete, Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, David Strathairn, Bill Gates, Kristen Stewart, Andie MacDowell, Treat Williams, America Ferrera, Kate Capshaw and her daughter Sasha Speilberg among many others.

The trip was a wonderful experience and I even got to ski---although "skiing" is not a word I would use in my case!!!

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  • Looks fun! Maybe one day, I'll "treat" myself to this classy affair.

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