Beyond The Red Carpet: Marines, Matzo Balls, Porn Have A Place At Sundance Too

An overview of what's going on out of the spotlight.

PARK CITY, Utah — The Sundance Film Festival isn't all about A-list parties, celebrity sightings and flashbulb-frenzied premieres. There are plenty of events that don't involve a red carpet.

Twentysomething Marines Robert Acosta, Paul Reickhoff and Herold Noel are half a world away from their tours of duty in Iraq. The soldiers are in Park City to support Patricia Foulkrod's chilling documentary, "The Ground Truth," an unflinching examination of the war in Iraq and the psychological and physical toll of modern warfare.

"This war is more important than these guys snowboarding, or Paris Hilton, or any of this other crap," Reickhoff said (see [article id="1521357"]"Paris Hilton Parties, Steve Carell Plays Against Type As Sundance Buzzes Along"[/article]). "People gotta understand that it doesn't just affect politicians, it affects people."

"This is a war that's affecting people your age," Foulkrod said. "Get involved. Get active."

Photographer Lauren Greenfield's documentary, "Thin," focuses on four women trying to overcome eating disorders in a South Florida treatment center over a six-month period. Greenfield had unprecedented access to both the women and the center itself, filming everything from weigh-ins to therapy sessions.

 

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Don't miss a moment, a party or a premiere — check out all of our Sundance coverage right here.


"One teenager came up to me afterwards and started crying, almost hysterically," Greenfield said of her first Sundance screening. "I was kind of overwhelmed by the emotional response." The film premieres on HBO in the fall.

Filmmaker Tiffany Shlain's short film, "The Tribe," premiered on Main Street, but she opted for a more intimate setting for additional screenings. The San Francisco filmmaker hosted fireside screenings of her "unorthodox, unauthorized history of the Jewish people and the Barbie doll" in her mountainside chalet, complete with hot chocolate and homemade matzo ball soup.

"The whole goal is to have a dialogue outside of the flurry of the festival," Shlain said. "What I really wanted is dialogue with other filmmakers and the audience. So as soon as I got in, I thought, 'I'm going to rent a house right off Main Street and invite people over every day to talk about it.' It's been really good."

Byron Hurt's "Beats & Rhymes: A Hip-Hop Head Weighs in on Manhood in Hip-Hop Culture," takes on the genre's "hyper-masculinity, sexism, violence and homophobia" head-on. "We gotta demand a lot more from hip-hop," Hurt said.

"I want this film to be the talk of Sundance," the first-time filmmaker continued. "But what I really want is for somebody with a lot of money to fall in love with this film.".

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"Destricted," which should someday screen alongside "El Topo" and "Schizopolis" in a Strangest Movie Ever Made film festival, played to a packed house at a midnight screening. Six filmmakers (including controversy lightning rods Matthew Barney and Larry Clark) created the compilation using two rules: None of the films could be longer than 20 minutes, and the subject matter was pornography. The results are as shocking as they are indescribable: a naked, moss-covered man whose semen fuels a 50-ton truck, and a wannabe porn star auditioning his leading lady are among the choice moments.

And of course, there's plenty of music all over Park City. ASCAP's Music Cafe featured sets from Augustana, Rufus Wainwright (in town to promote "Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man"), Mike Doughty and Michael Penn. The Starbucks Salon hosted Sonya Kitchell, Imogen Heap and Tyler Hilton (who was spotted ducking out of Self magazine's gifting suite with armfuls of swag just prior to his performance). The Salon's hottest ticket was to a Saturday night performance by "Entourage" star Adrian Grenier's band, the Honey Brothers. "It was the first time we played in about a month," Grenier said after the show. "But I'm feeling great."

But the lingering question for snowbound music fans is whether Police members Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland — all of whom are in town for the premiere of Copeland's documentary, "Everybody Stares: The Police Inside Out" — will reunite onstage. If that were to happen, perhaps starstruck festivalgoers would finally turn their attention away from Paris Hilton.

Don't miss a moment, a story, a photo or a premiere from Park City. Click right here to check out all of our Sundance coverage over the whole wild week.

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