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72 Hours in the Dark, My Weekend at the Sun Valley Film Festival

The Prep. That means one thing, pie at the Manhattan Cafe in Shoshone. Not only is it the best roadside pie in Idaho, but also this not-so-little cafe is a genuine slice of Americana. They first hung their shingle in 1890 (the same year Idaho got its star on the flag). To engage a weekend of serious hobnobbing, and casual VIP stalking, as well as lots of Film watching (they don’t like being called “movies” at a thing like this) you better start off with some pie, it’ll keep you grounded.

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How it works. Lanyard passes – this is the weekend’s ultimate status symbol in Idaho’s Little Hollywood – The 5B. They have three passes, but if you are going, and can swing it, pull out the credit card, bite the bullet and get the $500 Festival Pass. The Festival Pass gives you cut-sies in all the lines. You get in first no matter what. But since it’s a good $350 cheaper, there is no shame in the Film Pass, you get in second, which is usually plenty. Just remember, this is an event that only caters to the Masses with the Passes, and you want to be on the inside.

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The HQ. It’s the lounge-lizard lounge of beautifully manicured nonchalance that writers and film buffs use to schmooze and network, and it’s always the hive of See and Be Seen. This year Teddy Grennan, the founder of the SVFF, convinced the owners of The Warfield to give their place over as Selfie-City USA. Sneer all you want but face it– a lot of these people are pretty. Sometimes not. And sometimes surgically encouraged, but on the whole – yeah, these people deserve some documentation. Even if you don’t agree on their looks, the food and the bar were all free. So have another round, grab your phone and pose.

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The Parties. I don’t want to give short shrift to the parties. When Ketchum wants to party, they party. Thunderpussy on Thursday and The Joy Formidable on Friday brought the house down. I am not your late night reporter, but even an amateur like me knows a good time was had by more people than can remember the details the next morning.

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Finally, the mov– FILMS. Well, you see the films are always the least controllable thing about a Film Festival. They are the axis that spins the weekend, but you have no control over them. Even a non-film world person like myself knows that in the time between selection and showing all kinds of artistic contingencies, negotiated contracts can derail anything. Tums should be a sponsor. The films are the usual bags of narrative, documentary, shorts, works-in-progress, and the rest. I’ll see whatever, and I’ll enjoy it. Sometimes the ones I like the least provide a good counterbalance to the enormous slate of really amazingly good films. You need a clunker to make the diamonds shine. Each showing is introduced, often by the maker, writer, or someone else, but either way, you are spending time with all your friends. Worst case scenario… I don’t know – they’re out of popcorn?  

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Go for the movies, go for the scene, go just to go.  The valley is as gorgeous as its reputation and the Film Festival is a winner.