Michael Moore (right) walked through the crowd as he headed into the Egyptian Theatre for the premiere of "The Guard" at Sundance on Thursday. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
Park City, Utah --
If crowded previews are a bellweather of healthy box office perfornmance, independent films may be on the cusp of a rebound. Capacity crowds packed this ski resort's movie theaters for the opening night presentations of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. "Pariah," a drama about a black lesbian teenager, filled the 1,200-seat Eccles Center. The 290-seat Egyptian Theater was jam-packed for "The Guard," an Irish comedy of police corruption starring Brendan Gleeson. The crowd included distribution mogul Harvey Weinstein and filmmaker Michael Moore.
After the screening, Moore offered a guardedly optimistic forecast for non-studio films.
"The talent and creativity are there as they always have been. The voices that exist from Salem, Oregon to Flint, Michigan, to Bangor, Maine -- in all of those places there are people who have something to say. And their voice needs to be heard.
"The state of the actual cinema itself is not good right now. It's extremely hard to get a film made. Before this period there has been a glut of too many films that shouldn't have been made. And I think the wealthy, who are sitting on their money, only want a sure bet. So the things that are going to be a little more edgy and a little more risky are not going to get funded."
Earlier in the day Moore, who owns and operates a single-screen art film theater in Traverse City, Michigan, gave the keynote address to a group of other community-based art houses, assuring them that "people always want to see a good movie. That's the bottom line and you know what? They can come up with all the new technology. They can cram a movie on a cell phone screen or put it on my thumbnail. but people want to go to a theater and sit with 300 strangers ands see a good story, and that is not going to die no matter how hard they beat it down."