Sundance attendees focus on goody bags

After the movies, `swag' seems to be the No. 1 priority

January 30, 2003|By Mark Caro | Mark Caro,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

PARK CITY, Utah - Sure, people are here to see, buy and sell movies, but what really gets the pulses racing is swag - or "schwag," as it's commonly pronounced. Swag is the name for gift bags that are handed out at parties. If a party-throwing organization wants to ensure a good crowd, it gets the word out that prime swag will be dispensed.

A Sundance Channel party at Zoom, a Southwestern/eclectic restaurant at the bottom of Main Street, was known to be a major swag outlet. The party ran from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., but signs were up announcing that the gift bag wouldn't be available till 5 p.m., thus encouraging people to hang around.

At many parties, the swag is given out by the exit, such as Variety's "10 Directors to Watch Party," where each guest received a single, Variety-logo stocking cap. But at the Sundance Channel party, a separate room for swag pick-up was set aside off the far end of one of the restaurant's main seating areas, resulting in a crunch of people so large and intense that it made waiting to enter a festival-seating Who concert seem like a stroll through tulip rows.

Tilda Swinton, the Adaptation actress serving on this year's dramatic feature jury, tried to get within 50 feet of the swag room, then turned around and proclaimed, "It's like a scene from a Bunuel film." She ultimately had to leave swag-less to attend a screening. A Sundance Channel mucky-muck later fulfilled a request to get Swinton her gift bag.

Swag isn't desired just by journalists (some of whom have ethics policies prohibiting the acceptance of valuable gifts, ahem), fledgling filmmakers and hangers-on. Among the first people in line at Zoom were one of Sundance's top, top officials and one of the most celebrated indie-film producers.

In the pure interests of journalism, we squirmed through the crowd and, about 20 minutes later, emerged with the Sundance Channel party bag, which felt like it weighed at least 25 pounds.

Want to know what was inside? OK, here goes:

a navy blue Nautica Jeans down jacket;

a gift certificate for a one-year membership at Crunch health club;

a pair of Change Daily flannel boxer shorts covered with renderings of St. Bernards and slogans such as "Ruff and Ready";

20 ounces of Guru Philosophy "world-class hot salt, tub and shower scrub";

Microsoft Optical Mouse "Blue";

Crabtree & Evelyn Hand Recovery Kit, including 3.5 ounces of La Source Hand Recovery exfoliant and 3.4 ounces of La Source Hand Therapy cream;

8-ounce bottle Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel;

three-pack of L'Occitane En Provence Savon Soaps (100 grams each);

5.5-ounce Anthony Logistics for Men Glycerin Cleansing Bar, "Spice";

plastic pouch containing Tony & Tina Vibrational Nail Paint and Tony & Tina Frequency Eye Shadow, "Shimmer";

Inara Amate Bark Lantern Candle;

0.3-ounce tin of Inara Babassu Lip Balm;

box containing one compact, seven ampules of GoSmile tooth whitener;

pair of Silhouette aviator sunglasses;

$50 gift certificate for Shopbop.com;

Sundance Village ski lift ticket and $20 gift certificate for The Spa at Sundance;

300-milliliter bottle of Molton Brown "invigorating suma ginseng bath & shower";

40-milliliter spritz bottle of Zirh Eau de Toilette;

pair of Elizabeth Showers Studio earrings "made by hand and comprised of semi-precious stones & freshwater pearls";

3-ounce tin of Carol's Daughter Cocoa Butter Body Jam;

a small, pink, heart-shaped soap "compliments of Gianna Rose Atelier";

50-milliliter tube of Phyto 7 "dry hair" Daily Hydrating Cream "with 7 plants";

Volkswagen illuminating ballpoint pen;

Sundance Channel DVD three-pack containing the movies Scotland, PA, Amy's O and The Sleepy-Time Gal.

Jan. 17 edition of Entertainment Weekly (Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones cover);

a tin of Spearmint Altoids;

three Balance bars: one Chocolate Milk Cookie and two Caramel Nut Blasts.

Oh, and did we mention the bag? It's a stylish brown suede duffel from Kenneth Cole, which also included a 20 percent off Preferred Customer Card to be used on our next retail purchase there.

Gotta love that indie-film spirit.

Mark Caro writes for the Chicago Tribune.

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