I knew I had been at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival too long the day I was in the checkout line at the Fresh Market supermarket that's in the same strip mall as the theaters where the bulk of the press screenings are.
The cashier rang up my purchase -- a bottle of diet soda and a banana, as I recall -- and told me my total. When I handed her the cash, she looked at me and said, "Oh -- you're back again."
So, in more than one respect, I left Sundance just in time: I flew out of Salt Lake City yesterday (1/24/13) morning before 7 a.m. -- luckily, because a freezing-rain storm blew in shortly afterward and closed the airport for most of the day.
It was kind of the perfect ending to what turned out to be a successful 2013 Sundance Film Festival for me.
My definition of success is probably different from other people, but then, so is my agenda. As I've probably mentioned in the past, though I attend Sundance (and Toronto) as a critic, I'm also there as a programmer, scouting for films for two film series that I produce and host.
So my brief is different from the bloggers and industry people who line up for the Press & Industry screenings at the Holiday Village multiplex in Park City. I'm not under pressure to be the first one to announce my opinion of the movie I've just seen on Twitter or Facebook. I don't have to try to be the first reporter to announce that X movie has been purchased by Y distributor for Z dollars. And I don't have an editor somewhere phoning or texting me to get my copy in before deadline or wondering why our competitor has some story that I don't.
(This year, I met a young critic from Moscow who was having problems with deadlines because of the 11-hour time difference with his editor. He was on his first trip to Sundance -- or to the U.S., for that matter -- and said he constantly felt like he was playing catch-up to his publication, where his editors were long asleep by the time he finished his day.)
Instead, I go to the festivals, looking for films that might be right for the audience I serve.
This commentary continues on my website.