The 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
It goes without saying that having a film at the Sundance Film Festival is surreal. Even Hollywood’s elite get all dolled up and giddy when it comes to this event, naturally so did we (and yes, we just compared ourselves to Hollywood’s elite).
Producers Geoff Yaw and Brian Glazen, accompanied by their lovely wives, made the trip to Park City, Utah for the festival. The world premiere of our film, Fishing Without Nets was scheduled for the day after their arrival. The premiere was made extra special by the fact that we had flown two of the cast members who are Somali refugees living in Kenya, to Park City for the festival. This was not only their first time coming to America, it was their first time flying in an airplane. These men are used to working day to day JUST to survive… imagine THEIR sense of surrealism.
Filled with a combination of fear and excitement, Geoff, Brian and company headed to the premiere. “ It’s hard to explain the emotion.” Brian recalls, “On one hand, this is what we’ve been waiting for. This is the opportunity to celebrate the completion of what has been a year and a half of steadfast production and editorial. On the other hand, we are showing this film to an actual audience for the first time”.
When the curtains opened, our Director, Cutter Hodierne, made some opening remarks. In doing so, he called attention to the cast members in attendance. In that moment, our lead actor, Abdikani Muktar, stood, raised his arms into the air and shouted in broken English “I love you all”. The sold out theater cheered wildly and many matched the tears streaming down Abdi’s face. That was a memorable moment. Geoff recalls another memorable moment “Sitting in a sold out audience at Sundance and seeing our logo fade up from black before the title credits was pretty unforgettable. I’d definitely like to do that again.”
There are many levels to a festival like Sundance. There are people who come just to enjoy the movies like those who attend The Cleveland International Film Festival. It’s a social experience for them. Then there are the filmmakers that are celebrating the completion of a project and it’s debut to an audience of friends, family and esteemed colleagues (and a few childhood idols). Finally, there is the “business” that takes place at Sundance. This was part of the fun for Brian and Geoff. This “business” not only consisted of deals pertaining to Fishing Without Nets but maybe more significantly…talks of future films projects and partnerships.
The festival itself ran for 2 weeks. Brian and Geoff came home before the festival came to an end and before the announcement of the winners in each category. The good news is that we were able to watch the awards show via a live web stream from the comfort of our own living rooms. The US Dramatic Competition was the last category to be presented and Best Director was the last award in that category. When they began to describe the film that won for Best Director, we knew immediately that it was ours. In this writer’s opinion, the celebration that followed by our cast and crew in the audience was the GREATEST display of excitement and emotion I saw all night. It was heartwarming to witness the overwhelming joy, total shock and utter amazement seen on the faces of Cutter, Abdi and the rest of the cast and crew on stage as they accepted this award. As certain as I am that this was an incredible experience for us, I’m even more sure that it is something they will never forget.