Queues form for Saved!
Sundance Festival Diary: Day 8

"Oh dear, you've seen my willie," is the first thing Scottish actor Alec Newman says when we sit down to discuss his headlining part in Penny Woolcock's drama of self-discovery, The Principles Of Lust.

At every film festival you'll come across at least one so-called "skin flick", loaded with scenes of full frontal nudity, explicit sex, and/or orgies. And at Sundance 2004, The Principles Of Lust (set in Sheffield) is the one that's had tongues wagging/ hanging. Example: When I fell into conversation with one of the festival volunteers at a bus stop (natch) and mentioned that I'd just seen Principles, he wagged his eyebrows up and down and made weird cooing sounds at me.

The Principles Of Lust

He went on to say he'd heard that it was a "hot film", although not in the Hollywood sense of the word - others he'd been talking to were rating the actors' on their physical attributes rather than their acting ability. According to the word on the street, "the guy in it is buff", but the women are kind of "skanky". I'm sure they're not referring to Alec's co-star Sienna Guillory - who gets away with only baring her breasts - but I believe I know who "the skank" in question is, and I feel it's probably a harsh assessment of a performance that must have required a lot of courage and alcohol (I'd add fat paycheque, but as this is a low budget Brit pic, that was out of the question).


The same is true all round, and citing the case of Young Adam, I asked Alec whether it would bother him if the more explicit scenes were cut by the (notoriously puritanical) American censors. He said, no, he wouldn't be that bothered, because "the sensationalism of the sex and the violence isn't the real drive of the film".

I wasn't sure if that meant the sex and violence was excessive in his eyes, but this line of questioning eventually leads us to a confession of Alec's unease with some of the things he was required to do. In particular he tells me that an orgy scene filmed at a swingers club was actually shot using real 'swingers', and that he suspected these people of actually having sex (as opposed to simulating the act) all around him. He heaves a sigh and tells me, "That was a helluva day for me. It made me call into question what we were making this film for." You can decide for yourself whether it was worth the ordeal when the film opens in the UK on 12th March.


And now that we've covered sex on celluloid, we move on to the matter of religious satire. Teen comedy Saved!, starring Jena Malone, Mandy Moore, and Macaulay Culkin, sends up "the cult" of Christianity in a Baptist high school, and will inevitably have the American Bible Belt lashing out at Hollywood (again).

But before I go on, I should say thanks to Julie McIntosh, who met writer/director Brian Dannelly in Glasgow recently and dropped me an email asking me to check out the movie. Well, Julie, your will is my charge and so I headed down to the famous Egyptian Theater this afternoon. At first I wasn't sure I was in the right place, as the screaming masses of Macaulay Culkin fans were nowhere to be found. I accosted one of the smiley festival volunteers, who pointed me down a flight of steps and into a dingy alley that runs alongside the theatre. Well, when I saw the size of this queue, snaking all the way around the back of the building, I was forced to bring out the big guns. I flashed my press pass and said I was with the BBC. To my astonishment, it worked! I was ushered past the box office and straight inside the theatre.


In answer to your question Julie, Saved! was wickedly funny in places, if sometimes insincere and pat. At the very least it's a refreshing change from the teen fare we've grown accustomed to over the last few years. Apparently, though, not everyone was laughing. When cast and director took to the stage for the customary Q&A, one of the punters accused Dannelly of being deliberately offensive. Dannelly was cool about it, saying he was simply trying to encourage people to "just look at this", and reckons he consciously avoided taking easy pot-shots at the "Jesus Freaks" - as they're referred to in the movie.

After that bit of awkwardness, a voice from the dark requested that Mandy Moore sing us a song. Mandy bashfully declined, to a chorus of moans and groans, and just when it looked like things were about to get really ugly, Macaulay Culkin pulled the crowd back. In what had to be a moment of divine intervention, his mobile phone rang just as he stepped up to the mic to take questions. He answered the phone in glorious Dolby Surround Sound, telling whoever it was on the other end that he was "kind of in the middle of something right now". Laughter broke out in the auditorium and a warm vibe washed over the room, which stayed with me as I left the darkness of the auditorium and stepped into the light. Maybe it was Jesus, or maybe it was the sugar rush I got from the chocolate and peanut butter candy bar I'd just scoffed...

And now onto your questions... For Michele MacDonald, who wrote in asking about the US release date for Trauma: distribution hasn't been finalised yet, but I wouldn't expect it to be released before the spring. You can read full interviews with director Marc Evans and Mena Suvari closer to the UK release date at the end of February - and for the ladies at The Yahoo Firthlist, we hope to grab some time with Colin as well! I'd also like to say a word of thanks to April, who has recognised the artistic merit in my snapshots - that blurry look is deliberate, of course.

In the meantime, keep your questions coming in for Stephen Fry and watch this space for a look at Slamdance, the alternative to the alternative film festival.

Stella delivers her final Sundance postcard on Monday. You can email her right here

See Stella's latest gallery here

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