Lena Dunham Pans Woody Allen and Other Things Overheard at Sundance 2015

Our film critic did some eavesdropping in Park City.

| Shutterstock.com

“All Woody Allen was doing was making out with 17 year olds for years and we didn’t say anything about it.”| Shutterstock.com

We’re coming to the end of the line for the 2015 edition of Sundance, with most press leaving either today or tomorrow—and most of the stars and talent having long since departed—which leaves a bit of that feeling when the lights are suddenly turned back on at the end of the party, leaving everyone still there looking around like they just woke up from a long, twisted dream. In keeping with the metaphor, let’s pull out the broom and start sweeping up the debris with a sampling of quotes—and tweets—that help to encapsulate the 2015 Sundance experience.

1. “I’m 20th Century Fox, and I won’t forget this!”

Spoken by an angry patron, who along with about 200 others, was denied entry into the early Friday morning press and industry screening of The Witch, a deeply spooky horror movie that had garnered a lot of early buzz. Sundance employed a new badge system this year, whereby they gave a handful of lucky souls an all-powerful red badge, which enabled them to go into any screening up until about 15 minutes before showtime, and get priority over those of us stuck in steerage. As you can imagine, there was an unbridled amount of outrage over this system at first, which probably reached its zenith on the first day of the festival. (To the organizers’ credit, they hastily added a second screening of The Witch later that same evening.)

2. “Woody Allen is proof that people don’t think everything he says in his films is stuff that he does, because all he was doing was making out with 17 year olds for years and we didn’t say anything about it.”

Lena Dunham, during a panel of women on Saturday called “Power of Story: Serious Ladies,” which also included Mindy Kaling, Kristen Wiig, and Jenji Kohan. Needless to say, this temporarily set the Sundance press ablaze, at least until the next 30-second news cycle hit. Also, needless to say, Dunham, who continued to jab at Allen throughout the panel, shouldn’t be expecting any calls from his casting agent any time soon.

3. “All the darkness looks alive.”

Title card used in Rodney Ascher’s horror documentary (yes, there really is such a thing), The Nightmare, which chronicles a series of unfortunate people who routinely suffer from sleep paralysis. The single most eerie element of the film is that so many of the subjects reported “seeing” a shadowy phantasm figure in their doorway—a phantasm wearing a fedora. This detail, along with anything having to do with “Black Philip”—a demonic goat who factors mightily in the aforementioned Witch—insured that our sleep was properly troubled for the duration of the festival.

4. “I’m gonna shorten that, punch it up, and turn it into a tweet.”

Spoken by Brooke, Greta Gerwig’s character in boyfriend Noah Baumbach’s screwball comedy, Mistress America, now one of two of his delightful films (While We’re Young being the other) that are lined up waiting for wide release beyond the festival circuit. This easily was the most-used line amongst the Sundance press corps, at least in part, because everyone here is so thoroughly obsessed with Twitter. In a given (long) line of press and industry folks waiting to snake their way into the theater, two-thirds of the crowd are hunched over their phones, pouring over their Twitter feed. Case in point …


Piers Marchant is a film critic and writer based in Philly. Find more confounding amusements and diversions at his blog, Sweet Smell of Success, or read his further 142-character rants and ravings at @kafkaesque83.