Sundance’s Magical Moments

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.

Sara Fischel
Sara Fischel stopped for photo with Darla Bartos at Sundance Film Festival 2014.

Other surprising moments bordered from wacky to serendipitous and flat astounding.

Read on.

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.

Meeting Meaghan Rath! Meaghan and Phil Bartos
Meeting Meaghan Rath!
Meaghan and Phil Bartos

 

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?

Actor Loren Fenton, Darla Bartos and Phil Bartps, my son, at Sundance 2014.
Actor Loren Fenton, Darla Bartos and Phil Bartos, my son, at Sundance 2014.

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.

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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.

Escape Hatch

My reasons for going to the movies have changed. It was gradual. So gradual that I didn’t even realize it was happening.

Movie going was simple in the early days in the small Texas town I grew up in. Mom dropped my brother and me off on Saturday afternoon for a a double feature plus shorts. We paid nine cents each and were thrilled to return week after week. I’ve been hooked on movies ever since.

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Pop corn and a movie is good for the soul.

Movies  can stimulate, entertain and inspire.  I love almost any movie. But these days,  movies have become a respite.

When you are all alone in the dark theater waiting for this digital miracle — which has taken hundreds of people — sometimes thousands — hours to create, you join with them in the celebration of their work by purchasing a movie ticket.

But there’s more these days to catching a flick.

Now you can experience disconnection.

Who ever would have thought we would want to celebrate the act of being disconnected.When you arrive at the movie, before it even begins, there’s a cute video mandating you turn off your phone. For two and a half hours you leave the world behind. It’s an excuse  to turn off your phone. No texting. No phone calls. No one can reach you.  Virtually, no one knows where you are. You’re in an escape hatch from daily life.

I enjoy watching people as they power down. Amazing how most wait until the absolute last second.

Often I wonder why we don’t do it more. Power off I mean. The limbo of being where no one knows  what you’re doing or where you are. Applause. Applause for oneself. Not a bad way to do it. And it’s only for two hours. How about you? How often do you power off and feel the peace?

(thanks Google and Pinterest)