As I walked through the lobby of the Yarrow Hotel at the 30th Sundance Film Festival, a young woman wearing shiny red boots, a heavy winter coat and a red star enhanced with gold in her dark hair stopped me in my tracks.
“Are you Wonder Woman?” I asked. Then Sara Fischel flashed me the full package.
Sara, a videographer and actor, turned her camera on me and asked why I was interested in Wonder Woman. WW was the only female — other than Lois Lane — who ever looked like she was having an adventure. A strong female hero for young women. And still the film industry does not do her justice. I could have talked all night.
Periodically through the festival I saw Sara dancing in the street and wandering around videotaping and being photographed. A delightful personality who’s focused on her career.
Other surprising moments bordered from wacky to serendipitous and flat astounding.
Meaghan Rath, a Canadian film and television actor, who portrays Sally Malik on the series Being Human, walked by my son Philip and I in a narrow hallway while we were in line waiting to see her in a Slamdance movie Three Night Stand. My son is a big fan and acted quickly. “Meaghan, could I have a picture with you?”
She whirled around flashing a celebrity smile. I grabbed his iPhone and snapped it. “We can go home now!” he laughed.
Whimsical moments occurred that were astounding. And here’s another one.
Phil and I were lucky enough to have passes, which meant priority seating. For our first movie, we sat in the middle surrounded by rows of empty seats. A young woman walked over and asked if she could sit down in the seat next to me.
“What do you do?” I asked.
“I”m an actor.” The conversation sped up. When Loren Fenton explained that she worked mostly in the New York area, Philip leaned in and asked if she knew Nisi Sturgis, a lifelong friend of his sister, and my daughter, Benjie Ruth Bartos. Loren shot her head back and looked at us as if we were pranking her. Her eyes grew wide.
“Yes, I’ve worked with Nisi on several projects!”
I whipped out my phone, asked a stranger to shoot us, which I then texted to Nisi, who minutes later sent back a text of delightful surprise that we’d met! It was uncanny that Loren just happened to select the empty seat next to me with an ocean of empty seats available. Coincidence?
In another theater, Philip and I watched as a mass of attendees searched for seats. A woman asked if the seat next to me was taken. I said no and when she was settled, I asked, “And what do you do?”
“I’m a filmmaker.” And when Frances Bodomo, originally from Ghana, said she had directed Afronauts, Philip nearly leapt out of his chair across me. “That’s all my Mom has talked about for days. Really, you can’t imagine how much she is dying to see it.” And it was true.
Having lived in Africa, I was intrigued when I first heard of Afronauts because the story was so provocative. http://powderroomfilms.com/film/afronauts/ Bodomo, also a writer, works for a film company. It was a grand moment when the image from her short film eased across the big Sundance Screen.
Of course, I could say a good time was had by all. But that would not convey the experience of having being among so many creative people.
At the end of each movie, the director, producer and sometimes the stars, appeared on stage to answer questions. One young man — I don’t remember which film — made the most memorable comment.
“Honestly, I didn’t know what I was doing.”
A courageous comment and a moment of inspiration for us all.