(DEER VALLEY, UT – Saturday) It’s the second day of Sundance and festival film-goers are forming a long line in a yellow-lamped alley alongside the Egyptian Theater at 8:30 am. People are queuing up for the North American premiere of a film titled 1/2 Revolution, a documentary feature about a family that lived a block away from Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the demonstrations that led to Hosni Mubarak’s departure from power.
The 1/2 in the title refers to the fact that Egypt’s revolution hasn’t ended, explains co-director Karim El Hakim, who takes a spin at a temporary lectern that a spastic young intern has dragged up out of the shadows. But it also refers to the fact that each of the characters are of dual nationality. The film is a powerful portrayal of friends at the center of war and it pleases the audience primarily because of the filmmakers’ undertaking – that is, that they joined the ranks of the thousands of protestors who risked their lives in the maelstrom of discord.
El Hakim never intended 1/2 Revolution to become a feature-length film. But financial backing from the Danish government enabled El-Hakim (an American-born Danish-Egyptian) to place the 100 hours of footage his friends and he took on 12 days last spring into the hands of three different editors, the last of which won an Oscar, and the pages of credits devoted to people who worked on his film convinced me that we, with Our Longest Drive, aren’t nearly as equipped to compete at a festival like this as we think.
Regardless, our stature as amateurs doesn’t deter us from feeling good about what we are doing. We sail through a lunch at High West Distillery and return to the condo to stuff disks into wallets. Dan places a DVD in the TV and we stop to watch Our Longest Drive’s trailer and segment. The trailer summons applause as if the six condo audience members watching it were at the Egyptian. Leslie sheds tears and wastes no time in predicting an Oscar. I know that when it’s out time for 90 minutes, the segment we have will have to be trimmed by half. But she doesn’t want to lose anything.
In the evening, we go to an art gallery where Benyaro, one of the bands that have contributed music to our film, is playing. We hook up with Martin but turn down his invitation to join his friends and him for dinner. Maureen has made us plans to dine in Deer Valley at the St. Regis Hotel’s mountaintop restaurant. We pile in a funicular, looking back on the Earth as if it was Hollywood.
The J&G Grill, as the restaurant is named, is a beehive of activity. Yahoo has taken over one of the rooms for a party and an adjacent bar is packed wall-to-wall despite cocktails that one can’t get drunk on. We’ve joined a tony crowd, with aspiring actresses in $400 haircuts and wannabe bigshots who bring their dogs along. Music by Moby’s piped in and outdoors on the patio a brushfire blazes – controllably, as is everything in Utah, of course.
Dan places Mike at the head of our place setting which, in effect, occupies the center of one long table that sits in the lobby. Like women dining alone or kids who don’t know better, we’ve been placed somewhere others who are younger and hipper wouldn’t fashion – a function of gray hair and Midwest politeness. But we’re happy. Kay is a friendly server and the food is delicious, and I, with my paralyzed vocal cord, can talk and be heard.
Back home by nine, we change into pee-jays and do what we came here to do – watch a movie. But the one that we’re left with is The Help, and, despite accolades from some critics nationally, it’s so bad, so impossible to watch and so poorly delivered on TV by Xfinity that we call it a night early.