February seems to be the month for new features, doesn’t it? I’ve added “Jack of the Month,” “JoaquiNews,” and now I’m introducing “Chum Chat!” Aren’t you excited? The “Chum Chat” segment will run every other Tuesday (alternating with "Ask Joaquin" which was added in January) and will feature an interview with a friend of mine. My old roommate Mesun Choi, always the eager guinea pig, has willingly agreed to be my first victim.
JOAQUIN: So Mesun, in January you volunteered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. For those who may not know, can you tell us a little bit about Sundance?
MESUN: It’s for independent films. The fest runs the second-to-last Thursday of January until the last Sunday of the month—a total of 10 days. Just know that when you go to Sundance, you are going to see a lot of downer films because that’s the typical “Sundance” film, though don’t get me wrong, I love many of the films and saw an average of seven or eight films during my volunteer time.
J: Wow, that’s a lot of films! So who started Sundance?
M: Robert Redford, the “Sundance Kid.” Ha ha. He began the film fest in 1981. I only learned the year because they taught me that during the training!
J: So did you get to meet Robert Redford?
M: I did! Even though it was my first year, I actually met the man Robert Redford and I met our uniform designer, Kenneth Cole. Yeah… my first volunteer experience kind of puts high expectations on next year’s.
J: No kidding! Did you get to meet any other celebrities?
M: Let’s see… I saw Kate Bosworth, Demi Moore—apparently she had a slip-on-the-ice experience. That’s what you get for wearing heels in thin ice! Ha ha ha ha! I’m funny. Jeremy Piven… who else? I’m trying to remember. Yeah that’s all I remember right now.
J: I’m so jealous of you! So what exactly did you do as a volunteer? I mean, besides run into celebrities.
M: I was working at the box office and information booth. Loved it! We had so many filmmakers and production teams go by asking questions and giving us free “stuff” for their films!
J: So it seems like volunteering there definitely has its benefits.
M: It really does. There are benefits in that you get volunteer hours, get to know the ins-and-outs of the festival, meet many people from everywhere who have a love for the arts as you do, get free things, etc. You can gain what you want and maybe even more! It’s just exciting to be up in Park City and just take whatever that was in! Sorry to be vague… if there were words that could cumulatively tell exactly just how fun it can be I would tell you. Like wowowowow!
M: Yes! Don’t make fun of me! Ha ha.
J: Okay, so what movies did you get to see while you were there? You said you saw like seven or eight.
M: Let’s see. I saw Incendies, Project Nim, Hobo with a Shotgun… uh, brain fart… Perfect Sense, what else… jeez, when I remember more I’ll let you know. My brain is hurting. But let’s just say I think I wanted to cry in every single one of them… except Hobo with a Shotgun. That’s a horror film but it’s wonderfully done too, and stylized incredibly. I’m not one for horror but… yeah. Just watch it and then you can see what I mean! It’s AWESOME. A lot of the films actually got picked up for distribution, a little more than the norm pickup… so go see Incendies, it’s a French-Canadian film that was beautifully made and the story is just… ah!!! Epic.
J: So it sounds like you had a blast. Was it hard to become a volunteer?
M: I just went to the Sundance Institute website and applied there.
J: Will you be volunteering next year?
M: F*** yes. Don’t censor me. You know I talk like this! Haha, love ya, Jack.
J: Yeah, I’ll probably have to at least put little stars or something.
M: Ha ha. Plus, the free beer they gave the volunteers at the Volunteer Appreciation Party…thumbs up.
Hope you enjoyed the first “Chum Chat” interview!