Sundance '98 had a lot of filmmakers singing

Kurt & Courtney

Joan Osborne hadn’t even unpacked before she got a taste of the Sundance Film Festival feeding frenzy. “Somebody tried to pitch me a screenplay as I walked into the hotel,” the singer marveled. “I don’t know what I can do for some screenwriter.” You never know. This year, rockers descended on Park City en masse. Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz came to promote Burn, a film he produced that played at the alt-fest Slamdance. Osborne, Emmylou Harris, Moby, Duncan Sheik, and the Neville Brothers played countless parties. And Cracker frontman David Lowery costarred in River Red — a drama with a Ry Cooder-esque score by Cracker’s Johnny Hickman. Meanwhile, crowds caught the embattled rockumentary Kurt and Courtney; the velvet Valentine Loud Reed: Rock and Roll Heart; Modulations, a guide to electronica; and The Decline of Western Civilization, Part III, a plunge into subterranean L.A. punk. Even top winner Slam slinked along to a score by cut-and-paste wizard DJ Spooky. The harmonic convergence was no accident. With an indie boom, the market’s wide open for rockers who dabble in scores and soundtracks. Said BMG Music exec Art Ford, “With the record business in a slump, this multimedia approach is the future.” You could hear that future all week: BMG rented a chalet for songwriters to jam for their camera-toting counterparts. Still, some balked at Sundance’s hectic pace. “This is a freak show,” Lowery said. “I never thought something could make the music business look like a bunch of staid old English gentlemen.”

Kurt & Courtney
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