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The scene, and the seen

January 27, 2003

What do people in cow and Santa costumes have in common with Salma Hayek and William H. Macy? Very little, as far as we can tell, apart from their presence in Park City, Utah, last week during the Sundance Film Festival.

Stargazing in the mountains takes on an earthbound connotation as actors and filmmakers (some well-known, some who aspire to be), agents, film buyers and members of the media enliven the relative tranquillity of the winter resort.

With the gawkers and hawkers there come the schmoozers and cruisers (SUVs whose drivers are paying more attention to their mobile phones than to pedestrians or the street) and the suddenly ubiquitous people who wear black.

Whether they have something to show, something to tell, are anxious to buy or eager to sell, or even if they're just there to try and have some fun, crowds seem to be bigger each year.

What began as a place for films that wouldn't have stood a snowball's chance in ... well ... has become a place where films can snowball into something big.

Even if what has become one of America's most important film affairs doesn't happen to be broadcast in prime time on a Sunday in March, it's arguably more interesting and, in person at least, certainly more fun to watch.

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