PARK CITY, Utah — The snow was falling, the stars were shooting and the locals were gawking. And through it all, two very different but equally noteworthy films were shown to the world for the very first time. Welcome to the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.
"We realized that there was no place for these products to go, there was no place for these films to be seen, so we started the Sundance Festival," remembered event founder and film icon Robert Redford, beaming like a proud papa at the opening ceremonies. "Putting it in the mountains in the middle of winter, yeah it makes it a little tough, but I thought at least it would be interesting. It'd be a little weird, tough to get to, and people would get sick — those that weren't sick already."
A-list stars get sick too — of the paparazzi, the gloss and the unending sequels that seem to dominate the Hollywood process. So when the high-profile stars of the quirky drama "Friends With Money" kicked off the festival with its first screening, it was only natural that they gushed over the opportunity to go unapologetically indie.
([article id="1521258"]Click for photos from the Sundance premiere of "Friends With Money."[/article])
"The importance of Sundance?" asked "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" star Catherine Keener. "We love it. ... It welcomes movies we like to do."
"It's an opportunity to have more of a real voice," chimed in Joan Cusack ("Chicken Little"), with her arms around her "Friends With Money" co-stars. "[Director] Nicole [Holofcener] has a great women's voice
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"A unique voice that normally doesn't always get enough financing," finished Jennifer Aniston. "Here's where you get to do all that."
From the acclaimed director of "Lovely and Amazing," "Money" pays off with a story of four affluent west Los Angeles women who find themselves at odds after one (played by Aniston) quits her job to work as a housekeeper instead. Co-starring Frances McDormand ("Something's Gotta Give"), the film centers around one simple question: Is it OK to outgrow your friends?
"Kids from high school, kids from college," Aniston remembered of those she's had to leave behind. "I think it's a natural thing. It's seamless, right?"
Before these real-life friends with money outgrow each other, however, they plan on working together to drop the letters K, C and I from Park City (that's "party") in the days to come. "You can celebrate [your movie], which is so great," Cusack laughed.
"And we get to hang out together," Keener grinned.
"Yeah," Aniston added, "in the snow!"
The "Friends With Money" premiere, held at a local high school complete with orange hallways lined with combination lockers, played to a packed house. If you really wanted to get schooled in the beauty of Sundance, however, all you had to do was compare "Friends" with a look at the "Future."
Across town, in a trendy bar that served "Sundance Surrender" drinks (Absolut, OJ and grenadine, for those keeping score at home), punk poppers Good Charlotte unleashed "Fast Future Generation," one of the more unusual concert films in recent memory. Marking the directorial debut of Nylon magazine founder Marvin Scott Jarrett, the film chronicles Benji, Joel, Billy and Paul as they play a series of increasingly fascinating concert gigs throughout Japan.
([article id="1521288"]Click for photos from the Sundance premiere of "Fast Future Generation."[/article])
Playing like a cross between "Lost in Translation" and Jonathan Demme's Talking Heads film "Stop Making Sense," Good Charlotte's first movie couldn't be more different from Aniston's "Friends," save one crucial film-festival criterion: Audiences have never seen anything quite like either of them.
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SuChin Pak reports on the affair's first two films: one from Good Charlotte and another from Jennifer Aniston, only on Overdrive.
Reflecting on his first Sundance experience in a room above the party, Joel Madden said the movie's odd format allowed the band to take some real chances. "It almost looks like one of Marvin's magazines, on film."
"We have a really unique relationship with Japan," his twin brother Benji added. "[The country] gets misrepresented sometimes in the media, and we wanted people to see what we see in Japan."
The nightclub offered plenty of good times to the Good Charlotte fans, from scantily clad go-go dancers to old-school cigarette girls to a plush sofa area stacked with free T-shirts, bottles of booze and ice buckets for champagne. Packed in among the networking crowd were Nick Nolte, Crispin Glover and Aniston (And no, they did not arrive together).
On the big screen, the audience watched surreal footage of the brothers Madden looking like they'd stumbled into a real-life Gorillaz video. Working the filmgoing crowd, the bandmembers admitted to an odd sense of joy as they re-lived some of the odd tour moments that they'll never forget. "They have a respect level in their culture that's only in their culture," marveled bass player Paul Thomas. "To the point where between songs, they sit there in silence."
Silence is a word used very rarely this time of year in Park City. And sure enough, an atom bomb of aural nirvana soon dropped upon the assembled crowd, courtesy of Benji, who did a stint as guest DJ at the afterparty. It was the kind of noise that might make a 68-year-old man scream in pain — unless, of course, that man is Robert Redford. Between the "Friends" and "Future" rollouts, it was all music to his ears.
[article id="1488131"]Don't miss a moment from Park City. Check in with Movies on MTV.com for daily festival reports, film premieres, updates and photos — both online and on Overdrive — as well as Hollywood news, interviews, pics, trailers and lots more.[/article]