PARK CITY, Utah — Over the weekend, while Hollywood was readying for the SAG Awards , the 30-year-old event known as the Sundance Film Festival was busy handing out trophies for the films its judges (who included cult icon Quentin Tarantino and “Juno” director Jason Reitman) found most notable among the hundreds screened during the 10-day event.
“Choke,” starring Sam Rockwell as a sex-addicted con man, managed to talk its way to a Special Jury Prize, while “The Wackness,” a hip-hop-flavored comedy starring everyone from Method Man and Josh Peck to Mary-Kate Olsen and Ben Kingsley, pleased enough fans to garner the Audience Award. “American Teen,” a documentary following the lives of four seniors at an Indiana high school, took home the Directing Award, while another doc, “Trouble the Water,” won Grand Jury Prize honors for its narrative first-person account of an aspiring New Orleans rap artist caught in the rising Katrina flood waters.
But while we were braving the never-ending snow, meeting shady characters in dark alleys to get last-minute movie tix, and nearly getting run over by Paris Hilton’s entourage, we witnessed a very different Sundance.
If you were along for the ride, you’ll remember the insanity of such things as Diddy’s boasts , William Hurt’s unveiling of the entire “Incredible Hulk” plot and a strange encounter with Bill Pullman and his “Star Wars” action figure. You were there as Nick Cannon showed us the best place to get hot cocoa, Jack Black sang the praises of free swag , and 50 Cent coughed up the name of an upcoming single from his movie’s soundtrack. Even Robert Redford himself didn’t see this side of Sundance.
The question the MTV Movies Team will be asked most over the next few days is a simple one: What’s the best flick you saw in Utah? The answer is obvious: “Assassination of a High School President,” a quirky comedy starring Mischa Barton and Bruce Willis. Be sure to check out the review, as well as five fun clips that give you an idea of its genre-defying dialogue. Among the other films we loved were a hilariously thought-provoking documentary from the death-defying director of “Super Size Me,” the movie that finally unites Tom and Colin Hanks, and a bizarre biker movie with more nudity than a night at Hugh Hefner’s house.
Sadly, Sundance 2008 will always be remembered for the shocked, somber atmosphere that followed the death of Heath Ledger . As his colleagues digested the news alongside the rest of us, we tried our best to give you an idea of what was running through their minds , what was going through ours, and what it felt like to be suddenly thrust into a town of mourning. Some stars cried, others spoke passionately about a fallen collaborator, and we all kept his family in our thoughts. Rest in peace, Mr. Ledger.
We filmed so many interviews that I don’t know how I’ll fit the tapes in my luggage. We attended so many parties that I’ll be scrubbing the stamps off my hand for the next week. Somehow, the MTV Movies team found time to go to the third dimension with U2 , spend a dark night with Batman and find that Paris is a hottie even when she’s nottie in competition.
We sincerely hope that you enjoyed sitting on your warm, comfy couch, sipping your Starbucks, while we employed frostbitten fingers to cling to the strap in a standing-room-only Sundance bus inevitably taking us nowhere near the theater we were supposed to be at. We hope you felt like our plus-one as we sat in a midnight screening of George A. Romero’s latest zombie flick, and that you too geeked out when we stood thisclose to the biggest stars in the world. We’re cold, we’re exhausted, our eyeballs need lubricating — and we can’t wait to do it all again next year.
Wait, the credits haven’t rolled yet! See our complete coverage of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival — including breaking news, celebrity interviews, red carpet photos, movie clips and tons more.