Sleepless In The Void

I like my sleep. I like my sleep a lot. I like all things associated with sleep — duvets, dreaming, drooling. I like sleeping in, waking up long after the birds do, getting 8 hours as often as I can. Something I was warned about before I came here but didn't pay too much attention to until now: the Sundance Film Festival is not for those who need their 8 hours.

I've had 8 hours of sleep in the past 48.

This past Sunday I was back at the condo after the Lyle Lovett & John Hiatt show, writing late into the night to get a post up before I went to sleep. The guys I'm sharing the place with rolled in after seeing HIGH school, laughing to themselves and quoting lines from the movie. You know, as guys do. I can't remember who was first to suggest it, but someone mentioned an 8:30 screening the next morning of Gaspar Noé's Enter the Void, a film that has been one of the most-discussed films here at the festival, and we debated whether or not to get up in four hours to stand in line for tickets. Condo-mate Bob posted the following on Twitter:

You're a cinephile? Really? Prove it. Gaspar Noe's Enter The Void screens at 8:30 am. Monday morning.

That sounded like a good challenge, and a few in our little gang were of the accepting ilk. I went to bed at 2:45; my alarm went off at 6:30. I'd been asleep for just under four hours. I bounced out of bed (or more probably dragged myself), rubbed my eyes, washed my face, and stumbled downstairs to stare at the coffee machine. It wasn't even worth trying to make it, the type of day you need coffee just to make the coffee.

It's always impressive to see how dedicated the film-goers are in this town. The crew of ten kids already lined up in front of the Egyptian when we rolled up to collect tickets in 12 degree weather didn't flinch at the idea of being out there so early, in such cold conditions. Of course they'd wait in line: it was Noé. Our little group of challenge-accepters looked at each other: why were we doing this again? Oh that's right: Bob. We owed him one.

But Bob's challenge was completely worth it. Though it may have been a couple transitions too long for the fidgety audience (apparently the version shown at Cannes was 22 minutes longer), the barrage of images, at time so graphic I had to watch from between my fingers, was something I'd never seen anything like before. The surreal experience of seeing it so early with so little sleep was almost perfection. I wonder how many people in that theater were there without any sleep, pushing themselves to stay up late into the night, into early morning, brains warped and trippy. Just add some Noé and their minds bend almost to breaking.

As Enter the Void actor Nathaniel Brown said during the Q&A: "What the hell is wrong with you people? It's 8:30 in the morning!"

Lead photo: