If you know anything about the independent film scene, or film in general, you’ve probably heard of Sundance Film Festival at some point in your life. The flagship two-week long event in January, one of the most notable in the world’s film festival circuit, is known for its reputation to bring the boldest, freshest, and most intriguing of the upcoming film scene.
On top of their absolutely massive film lineup, they also hold talks with some of the sharpest minds in the industry, offer the best in upcoming immersive technology with their New Frontier selection, and much, much more. Sundance is more than a film festival, it’s a celebration. I have been lucky enough to attend during its 2015 festival, and the magic that was in the air during that time truly hasn’t ever fully left me. It’s an unforgettable experience, one I would urge everyone to encounter at least once in their lives.
One of the most notable portions of the festival is their “Next” selection, which features some of the best in upcoming directing talent. In the past, this has included films like Tangerine, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, and Sleepwalk With Me. This weekend, in our very own city of Los Angeles, Sundance Next Fest begins, a festival centering around the culmination of picks that fit under the “Next” name, and this year, they kicked it off in a pretty huge way – a 25th Anniversary screening of Reservoir Dogs on 35mm, right after presenting director Quentin Tarantino with the Sundance Institute’s Vanguard Leadership Award.
Before the movie began, a carpet was rolled out to welcome in the likes of Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, and Quentin Tarantino himself. The line welcoming guests into the theatre was remarkably close to where the stars were entering, allowing many excited fans to get a glimpse of their favorite director (before they saw them again in the auditorium, of course).
The first thing you would notice about the event, if you decided to venture down the line wrapping around the block all the way to the entrance, is that the crowd attending are not your typical film fans – they’re Tarantino fans. If you glanced down the line of waiting attendees, you’d see plenty of telltale signs, which include hearing the occasional quote told to a nearby friend (I heard three in the span of 45 seconds), people dressed in black suits with straight-black sunglasses, or being at a Quentin Tarantino screening. The last one was probably the biggest dead giveaway for me.
The event was held at the Theatre at The Ace Hotel (as is the rest of Next Fest), which boasts an impressive 1,600 seat capacity, just large enough to allow in about 1% of Tarantino’s fan base. In Los Angeles. In all seriousness, the theatre acted as a perfect venue for the occasion, and will absolutely prove to serve the rest of the programming just as well.
Upon entrance, it’s hard to miss the absolute, jaw dropping scale of the place, immediately boasting its’ grandiose nature with an elegant staircase and chandelier right as you walk in the front door. From there, you could either work your way up to the second level in hopes of catching the show from above, or venture on into the main lobby, with a full bar and snack offering. The auditorium itself was worth the trip alone, commanding your attention in all directions with ornate, intricate carvings and large, shimmering mirrors.
The show began with an introduction from John Cooper, the director of Sundance, followed by Michelle Satter, the founding director of Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program. After they explored Sundance’s past, connection with Tarantino (who had been given an opportunity very early on in a lab of theirs to test out Reservoir Dogs), and future, they brought on Tarantino to accept their Vanguard Leadership Award.
“This is a Los Angeles crime movie,” Tarantino exclaimed, honest and excited. He seemed so genuinely grateful to be standing where he was. It’s hard not to feel happy for the man, watching him proudly say “thank you” to the very first institution who believed in him. It’s been 25 years since he was given that first chance, and a lot has happened since then, a clear whirlwind into the cinematic force that he is known as today. He brought on Tim Roth and Michael Madsen, both known (in-part) for their landmark roles as Mr. Orange and Mr. Blonde respectively. It was awe-inspiring to see.
After Tarantino finished his speech, they turned down the lights, and played a quick tribute to the legend, a cut of selections throughout his entire filmography. It set a nice atmosphere for the film to begin – which it did, with a bang. As it always does. Afterwards, an after-party was held at Next Door, where food, VR, music, drinks and more awaited.
If you have not yet purchased tickets to any screenings at Next Fest, please, we implore you to change that. The way they put it themselves is a “four day summer festival with music, movies and mischief” and we think that is a perfect description. This is just the mischief on day one – more includes musical performances from artists like Sleigh Bells, talks with directors and artists, fresh cinema, lounging at Next Door, and much, much, much more. You do not want to miss this wild, fresh ride that Sundance has in store for us, right in our own city. The celebration has come home.
Which, of course, I say figuratively. Technically, their “home” is in Utah, ’cause that’s where they have their main festival and stuff. But, I meant “home” more like the home of cinema, or the home of many of the filmmakers, or like, our home, you know? This is LA Guestlist. Like, “Los Angeles” Guestlist. Like, where we all are. One of those “figures of speech”. Okay, you get it right? I just wasn’t sure if I made that clear enough. Anyway, check out the festival, the movies look insane.
To find out more information about Next Fest including the film lineup (tickets still available!), Next Door, the music and more, go their website here.
Tags: John Cooper, LA Guestlist, Los Angeles, Michael Madsen, Michelle Satter, Mr. Blonde, New Frontier, Quentin Tarantino, Reservoir Dogs, Sundance Institute’s Vanguard Leadership Award, Sundance Next Fest, Theatre at Ace Hotel, Tim Roth
Adam Sputh is a student at Columbia College Hollywood, in Los Angeles, California. His current interests include Los Angeles culture, film making, and writing about himself in the third person.
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