My Unexpected First Festival

I had no idea what to expect from my first experience at the Sundance Film Festival, aside from seeing some great films and reconnecting with the Sundance family I had grown so close to during the Native Lab eight months prior. I have since learned that the unexpected should be expected in Park City. Unpredictable weather, borderline terrifying celebrity encounters, and a nasty case of Sinusitis brought on by the high altitude are just a few experiences I wasn't quite prepared for. I also saw a magpie for the first time in my life, and I think I was a little too excited about it.

The Indigenous Shorts program was incredible and inspiring, and I promised myself that I would work hard in the hopes of returning to the 2012 Sundance Film Festival with my own finished short film. Ebony Society is quite possibly my favorite short film of all time, and I couldn't stop thinking about The Cave, and the otherworldly people it featured. Both films gave me a taste of the unexpected, and I was starving for more. Wapawekka was also a highlight, and made me nostalgic for the days spent in my Tota's (grandmother's) company.

As a fan of exploitation and horror films, I was thrilled to see Hobo With A Shotgun, and the short that preceded it, The Legend of Beaver Dam. The last thing I expected to see during the Q&A was a shotgun-toting man running through the audience at the Egyptian Theatre. I'm fairly sure that some audience members were ready to hit the floor or sprint for the exits, until they realized it was non other than Rutger Hauer himself. Only at Sundance!

I had an amazing time at the Native Forum Brunch; an excellent opportunity to meet and network with respected industry professionals, and catch up with past and present Fellows. I also thoroughly enjoyed the panel discussion featuring the Festival's short film programmers, and the introductory film, which featured twenty short film clichés to avoid. Through attending panels, and speaking to more experienced filmmakers, I learned so much about the creative process of writing and filmmaking. I received invaluable feedback on my screenplay, and made some great new friends. I also learned (the hard way) that as much fun as it is to fill each day with as many screenings, events, and parties as possible, one does need to rest at some point. Taking vitamins, eating well, and drinking plenty of water is crucial, if you actually want to get it all done and avoid becoming ill by the end of the Festival. My Sundance experience was a memorable one, and I would really love to return in the future to do it all over again. Of course, I will keep in mind the important lessons I learned during 2011!

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