What's Buzzing at Sundance

From slow sales to the hottest party and the "It Girl," Nicole LaPorte reports.

More movies, more buzz, more endless searching for an SUV that looks like every other one in Park City. (Why are they all beige, we wonder? So not contrasty with snow.) Anyway! Having spent yesterday talking up folks at the Sundance Channel headquarters, where we had the pleasure of getting some face time with the charming though very on-message Robert Redford, i.e. Mr. Sundance himself, we have this news to report:Everyone is complaining how slow it is, meaning sales. Partly this is because this is the new film festival reality (i.e. the post-Down And Dirty Pictures reality), and partly this is because there was a bunch of pre-festival activity, with HBO snatching up the rights to Project Nim; Sony Pictures Classics nabbing the Morgan Spurlock film, etc. Also agreed is that buyers want big films, or as big a film as one can find at Sundance. Hence, opening night’s Pariah, which has become, in festival logline parlance, “the black, lesbian, coming-of-age story,” though admired, is felt to be too small for a big buyer like Fox Searchlight. And hence, there’s buzzing interest (and likely soon to be deals for) in more commercial films like Margin Call, a thriller set in the financial world starring Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, and Demi Moore; and The Guard, an unlikely cop buddy story set in Ireland, starring Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson. Looking ahead, there’s anticipation for Kevin Smith’s Red State; The Details, with Tobey Maguire, and I Melt With You, starring one of the most intriguing lineups in recent memory: Rob Lowe, Thomas Jane, and Jeremy Piven.

Other observations:The film that’s being described as this year’s Blair Witch Project, The Troll Hunters, our favorite title hands-down, which is, in fact, about trolls who are lurking in the Norwegian woods. Word is it was a huge hit in Norway. Go figure.Hottest Ticket Party so far: James Franco’s ‘70s-themed soiree at the Playboy lounge. We are sure it was very ironic.The declared Sundance “It Girl”: Elizabeth Olsen, the 21-year-old “other” Olsen sister who’s being praised for her turns in Martha Marcy May Marlene and Silent House.Another actress to watch: Brit Marling, the writer-star of Another Earth, who’s also in Sound of My Voice.