From the Women’s March that swamped Main Street on Saturday (Jan. 21) to cocktail party chortles of “alternative facts,” the stink cloud of the new presidential administration is hanging over Sundance 2017, piercing the traditionally liberal (and, frankly, “elite”) festival news bubble in Park City, Utah.
Nowhere was this felt more palpably than at the Creative Coalition’s Annual Spotlight Initiative Gala on Sunday night.
This non-partisan group that fights for funding for the arts arrived in Park City less than 24 hours after hosting a “Right to Bear Arts” ball in D.C. on Friday night, only to wake up and find out that the new administration reportedly plans to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts.
Speaking at the awards dinner inside the Kia Supper Suite, honoree Connie Britton shared details of her own trip to Capitol Hill to lobby Congress for funding for the arts in 2008.
“I showed up dressed to the nines and in Louboutins,” Britton told the gathered crowd. “I was in agony, [but] it was such an exciting day.”
Unlike Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway’s populist $3,600 Gucci inauguration outfit (below), Britton’s only crime was bringing glamour to D.C.
As of this writing, that’s still legal.
Though Britton was a prominent face at Saturday’s Women’s March in Park City, that was just the next chapter in the “Nashville” star’s habit of pounding the pavement (in heels or otherwise) as an advocate. She also told the assembled crowd — including a princess from Luxembourg — of her trip to Philadelphia in 2000 to lobby at the Republican National Convention.
“You guys were my teachers in [arts advocacy],” she said, addressing Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk and President Tim Daly, who showed up on crutches after a skiing accident.
Along with Britton, fellow artists with films at the festival receiving TCC honors for their advocacy included Laura Prepon, Jay Duplass, Julia Ormond and documentarian Barbara Kopple.
“We want to go out of business,” TCC’s Bronk said, echoing a refrain heard often at benefits for curable problems. “We don’t want to have [to produce] dinners to raise money to advocate for the arts.” Encouraging guests to engage at any level, Bronk made an unusual fundraising plea: “Don’t even give generously, just give a little bit.”
Peter Dinklage harmonized with the anxiety pervading many at the festival. While introducing Ormond, the “Game of Thrones” star referred to himself as “mumbly, disgruntled, terrified-for-the-future me.”
It was not all doom and gloom, though.
As the dinner broke around 10 p.m. and a long line of guests huddled in the snow outside for the “Columbus” party that was to move to the venue next, news broke that The Orchard had acquired Prepon’s movie “The Hero.” (That’s the Sam Elliott-starring movie about an aging Western film star confronting his cancer diagnosis that had been buzzing around town since it debuted on Saturday.)
Later, queen of the Sundance indie, Parker Posey arrived like a ray of sunshine, sauntering in to the red carpet for the “Columbus” with co-star John Cho. As a Sundance veteran, she knows her way around a film party.
Cho and Posey helped themselves to sneak behind the bar for a bottle opener and to fetch their own drinks before hitting the carpet. It was an organic moment, not one set up for a pr shot, and another sign of support for the arts — the art of mixology.
TheWrap’s Party Report at Sundance is presented by the vehicle that will be shuttling filmmakers and casts to special events, the Kia Niro Hybrid Crossover. Among those special events are The Party Report’s party pal and HQ, the Kia Supper Suite at the brand-new Firewood on Main. Maestro Dobel Tequila and Johndrow Vineyards are the beverage sponsors. Keep up with real time images of the scene in Park City on @SundanceParties on Instagram.