The streets were not yet bustling with too many filmmakers, actors, buyers and wannabes that one could still easily walk up (at a huge incline) Main Street. As the banners flew and the sights were peppered with the bright red jackets of the staff- the venues put on the final touches and poised to open in the early evening.
The Eccles (a 1,270 seat theater) was to near capacity when Robert Redford kicked off the festival by giving a short, encouraging introduction to the premiere of May in the Summer, the second feature from Cherien Debis. Debis took the stage and recounted how much her eccentric family inspired and informed the writing. She emotionally talked about her mother’s influence and the innocent way she wasn’t aware what Sundance was when her first feature Amreeka was accepted in 2009. The premiere of the unfortunately under attended Twenty Feet from Stardom- was (audibly) a crowd pleaser from just a few minutes in. The back up singers were witty and deserving of the praise the film searches to recover for them as they usually go unnamed and unglorified.
Following the credits the audience gave the director and 3 of the singers in attendence a gradual standing ovation. All of the talent-Merry Clayton, Tata Vega and Judith Hill seemed grateful to be there. They didn’t have to be pushed too hard to sing for the enthralled crowd. Darlene Love, couldn’t be there due to family crisis is still scheduled to perform with the others in nearby Kimball Junction on Sunday. The slate of films expands Friday at The Eccles with premieres of Crystal Fairy, Austenland, Kill Your Darlings, Don Jon’s Addiction and Two Mothers.