Sundance 2012 Interview: Theater Protocol and Fine Dining with Veteran Movie Critic Eric D. Snider

By  · Published on January 22nd, 2012

As Kate mentioned, we here at FSR are looking to not only provide you with reviews of the various films we are planning on seeing (I believe we are currently at around 20+ each because, yes, we are both insane) but to also bring you into the Sundance experience. How might we do that? By mixing up our coverage with some slightly more personal pieces (yes I am friends with the following interviewee, yes I am admitting this to the world) which will not only give you an idea of who attends the festival (and help make those long lines and long nights of writing bearable), but what the festival means to them and what keeps them coming back for more.

As a veteran of the Sundance Film Festival, we turned to fellow critic Eric D. Snider for advice on how to navigate what can be a grueling eleven days while still having fun, lying to “celebrities,” and most importantly, what he is most looking forward to seeing this year. I met Eric for the first time at last year’s Sundance and he was not only a constant (and needed) source of humor (he photobombed me within minutes of having just met), but was also a great go-to if you had a random question only someone who had been to the fest before could answer (and yes, it helped that we shared a condo last year, making him a stone’s throw away at any given time.)

This year Eric will be covering the festival for and and has yet again agreed to stay in the same condo as yours truly (more reports on the goings on in our bloggerati condo of dreams assuredly to come).

How many times have you been to Sundance?

This is my 13th! Let’s pretend I was only 15 years old the first time I went.

What is your favorite Sundance memory?

In 2005, two journalists got into a fight over a seat in a full-house press screening. This one lady had taken a guy’s seat while he was in the restroom, even though he had left his jacket on the chair in the traditional fashion. I guess she just shoved his stuff on the floor and took the seat, like a savage. So then he came back and was baffled that this was actually happening – that this woman had stolen his seat. What I remember most was him saying over and over again, “Who ARE you?” – not like, “Who do you think you are?” or “What is your name?” but like, “Who DOES that? Who, in a civilized society, throws someone’s jacket on the floor and takes his seat while he’s in the restroom?” Eventually the man sitting next to the woman gave up his seat and left, which gave the victim a seat … a seat right next to the woman he’d just had a huge argument with. We hoped they would either fall in love or kill each other during the movie, but they didn’t.

What is your favorite film you’ve ever seen at Sundance?

Probably Memento. It was 2001, my second year covering the festival, and I saw it at a pre-fest screening in Salt Lake City. I was blown away. I remember thinking: “This movie is something special. I need to tell everyone I know about this movie!” And I did. And now Christopher Nolan is making Batman movies! YOU’RE WELCOME, NOLAN.

What other festivals do you enjoy going to?

I love me some SXSW and Telluride. Fantastic Fest is a really good genre festival. Tribeca is in New York City, and I like going to New York City. I’m hoping to experience Cannes for the first time this year.

What are you most looking forward to at Sundance 2012?

The weirdos who made Il Divo and Rubber both have new films at the fest (This Must Be the Place and Wrong, respectively), so I’m curious to see those. I’m also kind of jazzed about the Tim & Eric movie, which I’m confident will either make me laugh till I cry or will be the worst thing I’ve ever seen. There’s no middle ground with those guys.

What are your tips for those going to Sundance for the first time?

First of all, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You gotta pace yourself. You can’t watch six movies a day, every day, for seven days. You will explode. Also, when you’re scheduling time between movies to get from one venue to another, you should plan on it taking about 30 minutes longer than you think it should take. Also, look out for Old Man Redford. They say he haunts these woods.

What is your favorite venue at Sundance and why?

The Egyptian Theatre, way up at the top of Main Street, is lovely, the kind of old theater with ornate ceilings and fancy doodads on the walls and stuff. I always like going there. Truth be told, though, the venue I like the most is the boring answer: Holiday Village, because it’s an actual movie theater with stadium seating and comfortable chairs and modern restroom facilities. Quaint is nice, but not for 12 hours a day.

Is there something you must always do (or go see) while at Sundance (besides movies)?

Since reasonably priced food options are scarce, I find myself at the same ordinary restaurants over and over again. Burger King is a constant. Meanwhile, there are some strip-mall places that change every couple years, so it’s always exciting to return to Park City and see, for example, that the burrito place is now a sandwich place, or whatever. But mostly that Burger King. That damn Burger King.

What is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you at Sundance?

One time I lied to Pauly Shore. He was hanging around because he had a movie playing at Slamdance, and I happened to run into him on Main Street. For some reason the only thing I could think to say to Pauly Shore at that moment was, “I liked your movie!” But I hadn’t even seen his movie, and I doubt I would have liked it if I had. So I don’t know why I said it.

Why do you think Sundance is important?

As much as we joke about it becoming too commercial and too Hollywood, the fact remains that most of what Sundance shows are independent films that may or may not ever see the light of day again. So it’s a great marketplace for those movies to find distributors, in addition to being a fun, hectic place for movie lovers to watch them.

You can read Eric’s work at his website (home of “Snide Remarks”) and as well as listen to his weekly podcast, Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider and of course his hilarity on Twitter, @EricDSnider.

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