Words from Sundance Staffers: Ilya Tovbis

Hilary Hart January 28, 2010

What is your job at Sundance Film Festival?
I work in the Film Office as the Shorts Associate (a volunteer position). I help check in shorts filmmakers, get them credentialed and oriented to Park City. We also help them navigate and enjoy their premiere Sundance screening.

What do you do the rest of the year?
I am a seasonal film festival employee at a couple of Bay Area Festivals and a freelance writer.

Why did you decide to start working at Sundance Film Festval?
For the opportunity to experience this industry mainstay and leader amongst US film fests firsthand.

If you have worked at Sundance Film Festival in previous years why do you return?

This is my first year with Sundance Film Festival.

What is your most cherished memory from previous festivals?

See above.

What film are you most looking forward to seeing at Sundance Film Festival?

ODDSAC, HESHER, and ALL THAT I LOVE and THE TEMPTATON OF ST. TONY are my four pre-fest picks.

If you’ve had a chance to preview any of the festival films, which ones are you recommending to friends?
The short TUNGJUQ is great — it a visually stunning rumination on traditional Inuit seal hunting, with no dialogue but plenty of wonderfully wierd and carnally human grunt/throat singing from Tanya Tagaq. It plays as part of Shorts Program III. LOGORAMA, another short which is on the Oscar short-list, is also incredible and plays as part of Shorts Program I.

How many films do you hope to see?
About 15 programs.

What are your strategies for selecting which films to see and getting into screenings?
I tend to enjoy at least a few shorts from any shorts program, and also lean towards Eastern European and World Cinema in general. I’m planning on using a mixture of patience, luck, and whatever charm I can muster to get into screenings.

How does Sundance Film Festival differ from other film festivals that you have attended or worked at?
The operation is immaculately professional but the atmosphere is surprisingly casual. Because the fest is so premiere heavy (meaning there’s little to no advance word about the films), it’s also a exhibition space where you have to take more chances, but can be pleasantly rewarded as well.

If you have to choose between going to a film or a party how do you decide what to do?
I would go to the film most every time.

How do you deal with the cold and altitude in Park City?
I love the snow and try to spend as much time outside as possible. The altitude is a bit rough on the head though.

Will you be back for next year?
We’ll see, but I hope so.

Hilary Hart, who annually holds down the late-night shift at the Egyptian at the Sundance Film Festival, will be offering interviews with fellow workers from the San Francisco Bay Area during the course of the festival.