Grace in the Morning

By staff January 22, 2007


An 8:30 a.m. screening at Sundance gets major buzz.


By Charlie Huisking


Where do 2,000 people turn out for a movie at 8:30 a.m. on a 14-degree morning? At the Sundance Film Festival, particularly when the film is Grace is Gone, the movie that's generating the most buzz at this year's event.

Almost famous! That's me with a Park City icon.

Starring John Cusack, the film is about a husband who learns that his wife has been killed while serving in the army in Iraq. Instead of telling his two daughters, he packs them in his car for a road trip in an attempt to preserve their innocence as long as possible.


Cusack received a prolonged and emotional standing ovation for his understated performance following the screening. The film was quickly snapped up by Harvey Weinstein, the former Miramax Studio mogul who now runs his own Weinstein company. He reportedly made the deal at 4:30 a.m. in a Park City condo.


Sarasota Film Festival officials who are in Sundance were also impressed. They're hoping to land Grace is Gone for the Sarasota festival in April.


Later on Monday, I joined Executive Director Jody Kielbasa at a sushi and beer party in the Heineken tent. It was sponsored by the Creative Coalition, a group of Hollywood actors, writers and producers with a social conscience.


One of the members is Joe Pantoliano, the former Sopranos star who was at last year's Sarasota Festival. He greeted Jody warmly and told me he felt the Sarasota festival "had the kind of positive feeling and spirit that Sundance did 15 years ago. I really feel Sarasota is poised to be one of the best festivals around."

Good fella: Joe Pantoliano of Sopranos fame praised the Sarasota Film Festival over sushi and beer.


Pantoliano said he's eager to return to the festival, even though "I hate Florida. But Sarasota and Longboat Key are beautiful. They are the only places I would go."



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