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Thursday, 17 January, 2002, 12:25 GMT
'Too short for Sundance'
A small child attempts to order an ice cream in the film
Dreaming of soft whips in Beached
Karl Golden's latest movie is too short to be screened at Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival - so the UK-based filmmaker took Beached to one of the rival events which invade tiny Park City, Utah.

It's quite strange walking the streets of Park City. As you pass people, they look at you a bit longer than is normal. You can tell they're frantically thinking: 'Is he famous?'

Redford addresses the audience at Sundance
Robert Redford set up the main festival 21 years ago
Once they realise you're not Robert Redford, only a lowly short film maker, they let you go on your way.

Sundance - and all the other alternative film festivals which have sprung up around it - do attract plenty of Hollywood types.

I saw Alec Baldwin in a bar, and a bloke I met swears he bumped into Robin Williams in a 24-hour photo developers.

Admittedly, the real glamour centres around Redford's festival. I went to the Sundance office and one worker was on the phone arranging a screening. 'Is Brad going? Uh-huh. Jennifer is though.'

Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston
The stars come out for the film festival season
Sundance - which was once thought of as being quite alternative - has become more market orientated. My short film, Beached, doesn't meet the criteria for Sundance, so I took it to Slamdance instead.

There's also Slumdance - for films that don't qualify for Slamdance - and Nodance - for films made without any budget at all.

There's a bit of tension between the festivals. Our production company sent over the wrong format of Beached and Sundance was the only outfit in town that had the technology to transfer the film.

When Martin, Beached's editor, and I went to see the Sundance people they weren't very keen to help Slamdancers out. Martin's from the East End and not the sort you'd mess with, so I left the negotiations up to him.

The print we ended up with was pretty awful, but we decided to go ahead with our screenings regardless.

Ice cream and greyhounds

I was really tense. Beached had been paired with another film set at the seaside, but it was pretty heavy stuff. I wasn't sure how the audience would react to then seeing a comedy about Irish ice cream men.

I think they got all the references. And during the Q&A afterwards one person said he really liked the film's 'bleached-out look' and asked how we'd managed it.

Rival ice cream men in Beached
Our hero upsets his rivals in both love and business
The festivals attract an eclectic mix, which must be quite a shock for Park City - which is part posh ski resort, part conservative Mormon town.

Everyone's trying to advertise their screenings. Unfortunately, the police are quite strict about anyone handing out leaflets, even threatening them with arrest.

It's a bit like prostitution. You can't solicit people in the streets, but if you just happen to start talking to them you can quite legally give them a flyer.


The police are quite strict about anyone handing out leaflets, even threatening them with arrest

We had 300 balloons made to advertise Beached. One guy's wandering around town dressed as a chicken, which I can only presume has something to do with his film.

Although their town gets swamped, the local people are quite friendly.

We turned up starving at a supermarket and the manager cooked us a pizza and sat us down for a chat. Of course, it turned out that she ran a film criticism website on the side.


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A clip from Beached
"Greyhounds don't eat ice cream - any eejit will tell you that"


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10 Jan 02 | Entertainment
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