[UPDATED:] 2010 Sundance Film Festival Wraps (and Raps)
The curtain came down today on the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, 10 days of extreme frigidness that found Drake Doremus' second film Douchebag frozen out of a distribution deal (as of this writing*), the top dramatic prize (which went to Winter's Bone, Debra Granik's bleak drama about a girl from the Ozarks trying to find her meth-dealing dad) and the audience prize (for HappyThankYouMorePlease, about a half dozen New Yorkers trying to stall adulthood, from Josh Radnor).
Still, there was much for the Orange County-bred filmmaker to celebrate.
Sundance programmers were so behind Douchebag--which is about two estranged brothers taking a road trip on the eve of the titular older sibling's wedding--that new festival director John Cooper took it upon himself to write the no-budget dramedy's blurb in the official festival program. Before a frame of the film that took 20 days to shoot (over a 1 1/2-year period) had been shown, Cooper also told Variety that he considered Douchebag the dark horse in the U.S. Dramatic Competition, which included only 16 of the 117 features chosen to play at Sundance (out of 3,724 submissions). The film also received favorable reviews and other coverage as the festival wore on, with many who track the business side of the proceedings listing Douchebag among the few titles getting serious looks from distributors.
It got a serious plug on the bus ride over to its 9 p.m. Jan. 22 world premiere. Robert Redford and his eco-fighters seem to have this thing against global warming. As a result, vehicles are barred from Main Street, most festival parking lots charge $20 a car and aren't even next to the theaters and everyone is encouraged to walk or ride free shuttles to the venues. The theater loop bus was packed heading to the Park City Racquet Club, where Douchebag was screening.
Near the back of the bus, two teen girls laughed at an older man with his back to them. He was randomly yelling, "DOUCHEBAG! DOUCHEBAG! Yay!" Exiting the bus, he turned to look back at his companion--and he was the spitting image of Doremus', only the older gent had white whiskers.
"Excuse me, sir, are you Drake's dad?"
His face lit up as he answered in the affirmative. Then, Rick Doremus of Newport Beach headed to the Port-a-Potty.
Moment later, in the line waiting for the Racquet Club doors to open, a blonde who had been on the bus and had informed she is from Hollywood asked while texting, "How do you spell douchebag"?
The Racquet Club audience ate the film up, evidenced by their applause and comments and questions to Doremus. Here he is in action after that first public screening . . .
Your intrepid, budget-conscious reporter's room in Utah was 11 miles outside Park City, and driving to my warm, rented bed in my little rental car after Douchebag's debut screening, the Mother of All Blizzards hit, with the road getting icier, the sky getting darker and the Ping-Pong-sized snowballs getting bigger, thicker and more voluminous the more I trudged on. It was the scariest drive of my life. Someone later said this was the worst weather to hit Park City in 10 years.
Marguerite Moreau, the Hemet-born actress who plays the douchebag's fiancee and was equally solid in the 2009 Newport Beach Film Festival entries Wake and Lightbulb, got to drive home to Southern California to find her teddy-clad self prominently featured in commercials for the NBC series Parenthood, which premieres in March . . .
The biggest Sundance venue to show Douchebag was the 1,270-seat Eccles Theatre. Doremus explains above how nerve-wracking that was below . . .