January 22, 2008

White at Sundance: Day One, History

My wife and daughter went to the Inauguration--you might have
seen them; they were the ones clapping and cheering--and I flew to a Red State.

Yes, I have landed at Sundance, spelling my comrades Eddie
Schmidt and Tamara Krinsky. Thanks for keeping my seat warm, mates! I'll take
it from here.

I didn't have that celebrity-soaked plane trip that
President Eddie reported on, but I did enjoy a pleasant
flight-and-shuttle-ride-long catch-up with former IDA Programs and Events Manager
Tracie Lewis (now programmer at Film Independent).

But about that Inauguration, I watched as much as I could of
this world-shaking event, but just as Obama laid his hand on the Bible, Southwest made its
last call for boarding.

But some of the highlights leading up that moment: George
Bush Senior hugging Bill Clinton as if he were the son he wished he had...Dick
Cheney doing his Dr. Strangelove routine one last time...George Bush Junior entering
the stage to a chorus of boos...The Queen of Soul channeling both Marian Anderson
and Mahalia Jackson with her
tear-jerking rendition of "My Country 'Tis of Thee."...The multitudes around the
world--from Kenya to Indonesia--anticipating this moment...And Obama himself, the
last to arrive--poised, centered, rooted, self-aware...

Anything else--even the 25th edition of Sundance,
which itself was straddling history by opening in the Bush Administration and
closing in the Obama Administration--would be, well, ordinary.

And, touching down in Park City
for the midpoint changeover, I sensed a lower-key vibe, a deference to the
magnitude of the day. Fellow scribes were gathered in the press room, solemnly
watching the parade; Main Street
was eminently walkable (although I was turned away from the Sundance Channel
party), and the Sundancers beamed a beam of history.

More mundane matters--my condo is wireless-less. I figured that
wireless connectivity was as basic an amenity as pillows, blankets and hot water, but
apparently the condo owner, mired in a dial-up world, considered WiFi the
equivalent of mints under the pillow and fog-free mirrors. So, having sought out a solution to my wireless-lessness, I post my missive a day late. But now that I've found a clean, well-wired place, I'll be a post-aholic.

I did manage to catch a screening at the Temple Theatre--a
new facility for both Sundance and Park City--Pamela Yates' The Reckoning, which profiles the International Criminal Court
(ICC) and its mission to bring the perpetrators of the world's worst atrocities
to justice. The protagonist, prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, and his team go
through the Byzantine process of building cases against warlords in Uganda and The Congo, as well as the President
of Sudan for genocide in Darfur. Although the
ICC has the participation and support of over 60 countries-not including the United States, China
and Russia-the
wheels of justice turn very slowly. Yates is in it for the long haul with her
film, having launched an audience engagement campaign: www.IJCentral.org, which
aims "to build a global grassroots movement and social network for an effective
international justice system."



ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, subject of Pamela Yates' The Reckoning (Prod.: Paco de Onis).