“Have you ever had caviar on a pizza?”
The man, a fellow painfully unfamous guest to this private Park City house party, was rightfully proud of his concoction as he displayed it to a loose circle of us that had formed directly in a perma-busy walkway. We talked too loud, often to the point of distortion, to hear ourselves over A-Trak DJing in the corner next to a man in all black pouring tall glasses of a sediment-boasting red wine I could otherwise not even dream of affording.
But back to the free pizza and caviar, and our purpose for being here. It was a send-off, an expectedly (for me) emotional goodbye to Park City and in-person 2023 Sundance Film Festival proceedings at large. Back in December, I was invited to be a guest of Chase Sapphire at this year’s festival, which marked a return to the full-scale immersions of years past after back-to-back virtual gatherings due to the pandemic.
As I am in possession of a very particular kind of heart, I accepted the invitation with a detectable abundance of earnestness, which I somewhat recently learned to stop apologizing for. In short, gosh I love movies and I love them probably more than I love people.
Saying yes to this adventure resulted in four stacked-to-the-ceiling days of premieres, panels, parties, and passion. The latter, expectedly, was very much the contagious kind and gave me a high I’m still riding as I write this.
Sundance is a lot of things. It’s overwhelming, the good kind. It’s skin-chappingly cold but you don’t care because you’re about to walk into a screening of what may very well become a new favorite. It’s strangers made friends, at least for a few hours, as they all cry or laugh (or both) together at a blurry-eyed midnight screening. It’s caviar on pizza.
Below, get an insider’s look at this year’s festival through the eyes of a first-time (in-person, at least) attendee.
‘A Thousand and One’ screening
‘Run Rabbit Run’ premiere
Director Andrew Durham introduces ‘Fairyland’
‘Magazine Dreams’ screening
Anne Hathaway opens up about personal importance of ‘Eileen’
Director Susanna Fogel introduces ‘Cat Person’
‘Cat Person’ premiere
Anderson .Paak performs as DJ Pee .Wee at Chase Sound Check
Ahead of his performance as DJ Pee .Wee at this year’s Chase Sound Check throwdown at a movie studio space in Park City, Anderson .Paak was kind enough to give some time to Complex during which he fielded a series of questions in the green room, fresh off signing a heavy stack of vinyl.
“I’m working on my movie soundtrack and my sitcom theme music collection but it’s gon’ be a whole lot of range and dynamics,” Paak told me when asked what attendees at the let’s-get-fucked-up-a-thon for cardmembers hosted by TAO Park City could expect. “[I’m] gonna pull from a lot of different places. From Snoop to Fleetwood, from A-ha to Prince.”
These words proved quite prescient, as Paak’s set—complete with a drum solo and a generous offering of trumpet mastery from Maurice Brown—touched on those tenets and more to the rosé-swilling excitement of the crowd.
As for what fans can expect next, Paak confirmed to Complex that a new album from NxWorries would be arriving at some point this year (he says the album is “sounding really good” at the moment) and also touted the continued expansion of his directing palette after helming the “Coast” video last year.
“I’m working on a movie,” he told me backstage. “I wrote a movie starring me and [my son]. I’m just working on getting it off the ground and that’s the big one I’m working on. But also I’m still doing music videos, as well. Gonna shoot some more stuff for the NxWorries album and whoever’s down to hire me, honestly.”