Sundance Film Festival 2018: Weekend 1 diary

The 2018 Sundance Film Festival kicked off over the weekend and, as the latest crop of Hollywood power players, rising stars and eager fans descended upon quaint Main Street in Park City, Utah, it was impossible not to feel as though the air at 7,000 feet was a bit different this year following the watershed #MeToo movement.

Without Harvey Weinstein and with a fresh new batch of diverse, female-led films on the docket, Sundance 2018 was a step in the right direction as filmmakers and artists attempt to reflect the ever-changing world at large amid an environment of uncertainty and the continued challenging of decades-old industry norms. One year after the Women’s #MarchOnMain, it was more than evident that Hollywood is still intent on righting itself.

SEE ALSO: Sundance 2018: Celebrity sightings

I flew to Sundance this year with Stella Artois -- a Leadership Sponsor of Sundance -- making it my second time attending the festival. Below you’ll find a complete recap of my three days in Park City, including every party, film, panel and event I attended -- and, of course, a rundown of all of the celebrities that I saw in the process.
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On Friday morning, I got on the first flight out of JFK to Salt Lake City. Descending the escalator to baggage claim as hoards of paparazzi and loitering fanboys waited, the film festival madness began. Who were they waiting for this time? Turns out it was actress Tessa Thompson, who was there for her new film "Sorry To Bother You." Signing posters for "Thor: Ragnarok" and posing with fans, Thompson was clad in all-black (including those teeny, ‘90s-era sunglasses that all young female stars seem to be wearing these days) and quickly made her way through arrivals.

Once settled at the Newpark Hotel & Resort just outside of town, I headed into Park City for the “Juliet, Naked” panel at Stella Artois’ Cafe Artois. Rose Byrne, Chris O’Dowd and the film's producers chatted about their new film. I asked O’Dowd and Byrne what they remembered about filming “Bridesmaids” back in 2011 and O’Dowd recalled not thinking that the record-breaking comedy would be “as big as it was.”

“I remember trying not to laugh at Melissa McCarthy,” Byrne added.

See the best celebrity sightings from Sundance 2018:

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Sundance 2018: Celebrity sightings
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Sundance 2018: Celebrity sightings
Priyanka Chopra poses for a photo at the LA Times Studio @ Sundance Film Festival Presented by Chase Sapphire on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Jack Dempsey/Invision for Chase Sapphire Preferred/AP Images)
Paris Jackson wore a "WEED" shirt to Common and Friends party at Wanderluxxe House presented by Dropbox and Apex Social Club, where Postmates delivered 250 pieces of friend chicken and gallons of mac 'n' cheese. (Photo by Michael Bezjian/Getty Images for WanderLuxxe )
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Actor Idris Elba spins at the 'Yardie' After Party at Sundance Film Festival 2018 at The Grey Goose Blue Door on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Grey Goose Vodka)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: John Legend joins the cast of Monster in a live Q&A hosted by Stella Artois and Deadline.com at Cafe Artois during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Sunday, January 21, 2018. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Stella Artois )
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 22: Actors Sasha Lane and Chloe Grace Moretz attend The IMDbPro Party to Celebrate the Premiere of 'The Miseducation of Cameron Post' and Launch of IMDbPro's New iPhone App on January 22, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb)
Bella Thorne is all smiles while attending the "Assassination Nation" cast party with boyfriend Mod Sun at Chase Sapphire on Main on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision for Chase Sapphire/AP Images)
Director Aisha Tyler, actors Tessa Thompson, Issa Rae, Autograph Collection Hotels head Amanda Altree and director Karim Ahmad attend the 'Power Women's Cocktail' with Autograph Collection Hotels, the Black List and Sundance Institute & Diversity Initiative during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for Autograph Collection Hotels)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Actor Luke Wilson of 'Arizona' attends The IMDb Studio and The IMDb Show on Location at The Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Maggie Gyllenhaal and Ethan Hawke at the Blaze cast party in Cafe Artois during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Sunday, January 21, 2018 (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Stella Artois )
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 22: Chrissy Teigen (L) and John Legend attend the 'Monster' Premiere during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival at Eccles Center Theatre on January 22, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by C Flanigan/FilmMagic)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Actress Jane Fonda speaks at the Respect Rally event, which honors the one-year anniversary of the National Women's March and the #MarchOnMain event held in Park City, at City Park during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 22: Actor Sarah Shahi attends the Whitewater Films Reception At The RAND Luxury Escape - 2018 Park City at The St. Regis Deer Valley during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for RAND Luxury)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Model Chrissy Teigen (L) and her husband, recording artist John Legend pose with their daughter Luna Simone Stephens at the 'Monster' dinner film reception presented by the RAND Luxury Escape at Grappa during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for RAND Luxury)

Idris Elba arrived towards the end of night two at TAO Park City, where guests were treated to Tequila Don Julio 1942 and hot chocolate at the Tinder outdoor lounge.

(Credit: TAO Park City/Al Powers/Powers Imagery)

PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Paris Jackson attends WanderLuxxe House hosts 'Common and Friends' Evening of Private Performances presented by Dropbox and Apex Social Club on January 21, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Michael Bezjian/Getty Images for WanderLuxxe )
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 19: Evan Peters and Emma Roberts attend the 'American Animals' after-party at the Grey Goose Blue Door during Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Grey Goose Vodka)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 19: Actors Jonah Hill (L) and Joaquin Pheonix of the film 'Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot' attend as Grey Goose Blue Door hosts the casts of game-changing films during the Sundance Film Festival at The Grey Goose Blue Door on January 19, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Grey Goose Vodka)
Jim Hosking, Jemaine Clement (holding his Sundance 'wing-man' Morning Recovery, which he was drinking to keep him going all weekend long), Craig Robinson, Matt Berry and Aubrey Plaza of 'An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn' attend The IMDb Studio and The IMDb Show on Location at The Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb)
Executive producer John Legend performs at the "Monster" cast party at Chase Sapphire on Main on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision for Chase Sapphire/AP Images)
Jim Parsons enjoyed Peet's Coffee at the Vulture Spot, Park City, Utah during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Vulture)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Bo Burnham attends as Grey Goose Blue Door hosts the casts of game-changing films during the Sundance Film Festival at The Grey Goose Blue Door on January 21, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Grey Goose Vodka)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Actor Usher Raymond of 'Burden' attends The IMDb Studio and The IMDb Show on Location at The Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for IMDb)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 22: Naomi Watts is seen during 2018 Sundance Film Festival wearing SOREL in Park City on January 22, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by J. Merritt/GC Images)
Peter Dinklage and Elle Fanning wowed Sundance party goers with a surprise karaoke duet during the "I Think We're Alone Now" cast party at Chase Sapphire on Main on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision for Chase Sapphire/AP Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Chlo�Grace Moretz (L) and Sasha Lane attend Outfest Queer Brunch at Sundance Presented By DIRECTV NOW and AT&T Hello Lab during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival at Grub Steak on January 21, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Outfest)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 22: Actor Naomi Watts attends the 'Ophelia' Premiere during 2018 Sundance Film Festival at Eccles Center Theatre on January 22, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by C Flanigan/FilmMagic)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Aubrey Plaza is seen at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival wearing SOREL on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by J. Merritt/GC Images)
Priyanka Chopra, Octavia Spencer, Jim Parsons and Claire Danes laugh during a panel discussion for "A Kid Like Jake" at LA Times Live @ Sundance Film Festival Presented by Chase Sapphire on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Jack Dempsey/Invision for Chase Sapphire Preferred/AP Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 19: Actor Nick Offerman from 'Hearts Beat Loud' and actor Paul Rudd from 'The Catcher Was A Spy' attend The IMDb Studio at The Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for IMDb)

Post Malone delivered a surprise performance on night two of TAO Park City, where guests were treated to Tequila Don Julio 1942 and hot chocolate at the Tinder outdoor lounge.

(Credit: TAO Park City/Al Powers/Powers Imagery)

PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 19: (L-R) Actors Aubrey Plaza and Chloe Sevigny attend the Lizzie cast party in Cafe Artois during the Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2018 in Park City, Utah (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Stella Artois )

Debra Messing posed for photos in RUDSAK's Melodic jacket at the IndieWire Studio Presented by Dropbox.

(Credit: IndieWire)

PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Actor Priyanka Chopra is seen at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by J. Merritt/GC Images)

Singers M.I.A. and Joan Jett hung out together at the IndieWire Studio Presented by Dropbox.

(Credit: IndieWire)

Armie Hammer puts his feet up at LA Times Studio @ Sundance Film Festival Presented by Chase Sapphire on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Jack Dempsey/Invision for Chase Sapphire Preferred/AP Images)

Aisha Tyler congratulated Sandra Lee on her Creative Coalition Award during the Creative Coalition’s Annual Spotlight Awards Gala Jan 21 at the KIA Supper Suite before flying out on a JetSuiteX Sundance pop-up flight the next day.

(Credit: Lu Chau for KIA Supper Suite)

John Legend and Common hit the stage together at the Wanderluxxe House in Park City during the Common and Friends party, where guests enjoyed The House of Rémy and Casamigos cocktails.

(Credit: Getty Images)

Jon Hamm picked up two pairs of mou boots -- including a women's pair for someone special -- at the IndieWire Studio presented by Dropbox at Sundance.

(Credit: Clayton Chase for IndieWire)

Sara and Erin Foster partied with pals Jennifer Meyer and Yael Cohen at TAO Park City, where guests were treated to Don Julio 1942, as well as hot chocolate at an exclusive outdoor Tinder lounge.

(Credit: TAO Park City/Al Powers/Powers Imagery)

PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 22: Chrissy Teigen attends the 'Monster' Premiere during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival at Eccles Center Theatre on January 22, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by C Flanigan/FilmMagic)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Common speaks during the Respect Rally during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Actor Joel McHale attends the APA reception at the RAND Luxury Escape during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival at The St. Regis Deer Valley on January 21, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for RAND Luxury)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Singer Usher is seen at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Bryan Steffy/GC Images)
Maggie Gyllenhaal was spotted wearing SOREL Cozy Joan boots while out and about at Sundance. (Photo by J. Merritt/GC Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Elle Fanning is seen on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by gotpap/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: ASAP Rocky joins the cast of Monster in a live Q&A hosted by Stella Artois and Deadline.com at Cafe Artois during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Sunday, January 21, 2018. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Stella Artois )
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Actor Jake Gyllenhaal (L) takes a selfie with a fan during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Bryan Steffy/GC Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: (L-R) Actor Claire Danes, Octavia Spencer and Priyanka Chopra from 'A Kid Like Jake' attend The IMDb Studio and The IMDb Show on Location at The Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Ethan Hawke at the Blaze cast party in Cafe Artois during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Sunday, January 21, 2018 (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Stella Artois )
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Chloe Grace Moretz attends the 2018 Spotlight Initiative Awards Gala Dinner at Kia Supper Suite on January 21, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: John Legend and the cast of Monster participated in a live Q&A hosted by Stella Artois and Deadline.com at Cafe Artois during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Sunday, January 21, 2018. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Stella Artois )
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 19: Tessa Thompson attends the Women in Film dinner at DIRECTV Lodge presented by AT&T during Sundance Film Festival 2018 on January 19, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for AT&T and DIRECTV )
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Bella Thorne is seen at Salt Lake City International Airport on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by gotpap/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
Jane Fonda was sported out and about at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival wearing SOREL boots and RUDSAK's Meg jacket in black. (Photo by J. Merritt/GC Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Robert Pattinson is seen at Salt Lake City International Airport on January 21, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by gotpap/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

Hillary Swank hung out at the JetSuiteX Lounge in The Music Lodge during Sundance over the weekend.

(Credit: Douglas Barnes/Invision for The Music Lodge/AP Images)

Maggie Gyllenhaal (L) and singer Martha Wainwright perform at cocktails hosted by Autograph Collection Hotels to Celebrate Maggie Gyllenhaal as Independent Film Advisor for the Brand's Indie Film Project during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for Autograph Collection Hotels)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Blythe Danner at the What They Had cast party at in Cafe Artois during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Sunday, January 21, 2018. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Stella Artois )
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 19: Actress Chloe Sevigny is seen at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by J. Merritt/GC Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Actor Debra Messing from 'Search' attends The IMDb Studio and The IMDb Show on Location at The Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Keira Knightley at the Colette cast party in Cafe Artois during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Saturday, January 20, 2018. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Stella Artois )
Bill Skarsgard receives the IMDb STARmeter Award at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival In Park City.
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: (L-R) Jemaine Clement and Aubrey Plaza participated in a live Q&A with the cast of An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn hosted by Stella Artois and Deadline.com at Cafe Artois during the Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Stella Artois )

Black Eyed Peas members Taboo and Apl.de.ap attended “A Dinner for Change, Celebrating: MASTERS OF THE SUN,” a benefit dinner and conversation about social injustice and how to activate they hosted with will.i.am, KRS-One, Rakim and Jason Isaacs at the KIA Supper Club.

(Credit: Lu Chau for KIA Supper Suite)

PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Actor Nick Offerman speaks during the Respect Rally during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

Brody Jenner joined DJ Politik onstage at TAO Park City, where guests were treated to Tequila Don Julio 1942 and hot chocolate at the Tinder outdoor lounge.

(Credit: TAO Park City/Al Powers/Powers Imagery)

PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 19: Actors Chris O'Dowd and Rose Byrne attend a live Q&A with the Juliet, Naked cast hosted by Stella Artois and Deadline at Cafe Artois during the Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2018 in Park City, Utah (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Stella Artois )
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Actor Chloe Grace Moretz of 'The Miseducation of Cameron Post' attends The IMDb Studio and The IMDb Show on Location at The Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: (L-R) Jessica Williams, Blaine Spesak, and Alia Shawkat at the Blaze cast party in Cafe Artois during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Sunday, January 21, 2018 (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Stella Artois )
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 19: Actor Ted Danson is seen at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival wearing SOREL on January 19, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by J. Merritt/GC Images)
Bella Thorne wigs out while attending the "Assassination Nation" cast party at Chase Sapphire on Main on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision for Chase Sapphire/AP Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Jessica Williams at the Blaze cast party in Cafe Artois during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Sunday, January 21, 2018 (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Stella Artois )

"Vanderpump Rules" star Lala Kent and boyfriend Randell Emmett partied at TAO Park City, where guests were treated to Tequila Don Julio 1942.

(Credit: TAO Park City/Al Powers/Powers Imagery)

PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: (L-R) Keira Knightley and Dominic West at the Colette cast party in Cafe Artois during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Saturday, January 20, 2018. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Stella Artois )
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 23: Octavia Spencer attends the 'A Kid Like Jake' pre-party at Sundance Film Festival 2018 at The Grey Goose Blue Door on January 23, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Grey Goose Vodka)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Actor Jason Segel of 'Come Sunday' attends The IMDb Studio and The IMDb Show on Location at The Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for IMDb)
Maggie Gyllenhaal poses for a photo at the LA Times Studio @ Sundance Film Festival Presented by Chase Sapphire on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Jack Dempsey/Invision for Chase Sapphire Preferred/AP Images)

Priyanka Chopra and Octavia Spencer snapped a selfie at the IndieWire Studio Presented by Dropbox.

(Credit: IndieWire)

PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Actor Meagan Good of 'A Boy. A Girl. A Dream: Love on Election Night' attends The IMDb Studio and The IMDb Show on Location at The Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for IMDb)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 23: Todd Spiewak and Jim Parsons attend the 'A Kid Like Jake' pre-party at Sundance Film Festival 2018 at The Grey Goose Blue Door on January 23, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Grey Goose Vodka)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Hilary Swank is seen on January 21, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by gotpap/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

Elijah Wood DJ'd and sipped on Casamigos cocktails at the "Mandy" premiere party at the WanderLuxxe House in Park City.

(Credit: Getty Images for WanderLuxxe)

PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 22: Actor Jon Hamm attends the 'Beirut' Premiere during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival at Eccles Center Theatre on January 22, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by C Flanigan/FilmMagic)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Nicolas Cage is seen at Salt Lake City International Airport on January 21, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by gotpap/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Tessa Thompson (L) and Gloria Allred attend the Respect Rally during the Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images for Netflix)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 19: Chloe Grace Moretz is seen at Salt Lake City International Airport on January 19, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by gotpap/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Michael Shannon at the What They Had cast party at in Caf Artois during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Sunday, January 21, 2018. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Stella Artois )
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Actor Idris Elba spins at the 'Yardie' After Party at Sundance Film Festival 2018 at The Grey Goose Blue Door on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Grey Goose Vodka)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Emma Roberts and Evan Peters are seen on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by gotpap/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Bella Thorne attends the 'Assassination Nation' Premiere during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival at Park City Library on January 21, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by George Pimentel/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Jane Fonda speaks on stage during the Respect Rally during the Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by J. Merritt/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 22: Bella Thorne is seen during 2018 Sundance Film Festival in Park City on January 22, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by J. Merritt/GC Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Actor Armie Hammer of 'Sorry To Bother You' attends The IMDb Studio and The IMDb Show on Location at The Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for IMDb)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Ashley Judd attends the Sundance Film Festival 2018 on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Ernesto Di Stefano Photography/GC Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 22: Actor Jon Hamm of 'Beirut' attends The IMDb Studio and The IMDb Show on Location at The Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for IMDb)
Paul Rudd, left, and Paul Giamatti catch up on their reading at "The Catcher Was a Spy" cast party at Chase Sapphire on Main on Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision for Chase Sapphire/AP Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 19: Actor Nicolas Cage of 'Mandy' attends The IMDb Studio and The IMDb Show on Location at The Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Randall Emmett and Lala Kent, wearing a faux fur coat from Oh Polly, attend the EcoLuxe Lounge - Park City on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Paul Best/Getty Images for EcoLuxe)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 19: Carey Mulligan is seen at Salt Lake City International Airport on January 19, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by gotpap/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
Jim Parsons and Claire Danes pause for a photo at the LA Times Studio @ Sundance Film Festival Presented by Chase Sapphire on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Jack Dempsey/Invision for Chase Sapphire Preferred/AP Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 22: Rapper A$AP Rocky attends the 2018 Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by David Becker/GC Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Erin Foster, Sara Foster and Jennifer Meyer attends the '49 Remarkable Women + One Really Cool Dude' event hosted by Creative Playground and ChefDance on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Tiffany Rose/Getty Images for ChefDance)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: (L-R) Jason Ritter, Isabelle Nelisse, and Common stop by DIRECTV Lodge presented by AT&T during Sundance Film Festival 2018 on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for AT&T and DIRECTV )
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Talent Manager Scooter Braun and wife Yael Cohen attend the '49 Remarkable Women + One Really Cool Dude' event hosted by Creative Playground and ChefDance on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Tiffany Rose/Getty Images for ChefDance)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 22: Actor Tom Felton is seen during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2018 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Bryan Steffy/GC Images)
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Next, I dashed out to the Kimball Art Center, where Chase Sapphire had set up a food truck in collaboration with the winner of “Top Chef” season 10, Kristen Kish -- a first-timer at Sundance, where gourmet donuts and coffee were served.

“We wanted to create a space where people could stop by, experience something new and have a bite to eat between films,” Kish told me about the project. “When I did 'Top Chef,' I never expected what would or wouldn’t happen. It doesn’t even matter if you win or don’t win -- it’s more about who you want to be and if people are going to take to you. If you’re a sh-t person, nobody’s going to want to work with you. So, I’m still surprised when things like this come about.”

That night, there was a welcome dinner with Stella Artois at 350 Main, where we dined on New York strip, cauliflower soup and gluten free fried chicken. The Women in Film cocktail party was next at Cafe Artois, before I ducked out to stop by the “The Catcher Was A Spy” premiere party at Chase Sapphire on Main. On the way to the party, I spotted former “Bachelorette” contestant Dean Unglert walking arm-in-arm with rumored new girlfriend, former “Bachelor” hopeful Lesley Murphy. They reportedly started dating after appearing on “The Bachelor Winter Games,” which doesn’t air until next month.

After downing a couple of Grey Goose cocktails at Chase Sapphire on Main, I headed back to Cafe Artois for the “Lizzie” premiere party. Though star Kristen Stewart wasn’t there (word on the street was that she had a Chanel conflict, which is why she didn’t appear at Sundance at all this year), but co-star Chloe Sevigny was sitting in VIP wearing a shimmering blue dress and Princess Leia buns. I overheard a waitress return from the VIP section holding a full plate of vegetarian dumplings say that the people in VIP “aren’t vegetarians -- they want meat!” Chloe mingled with Aubrey Plaza, who glided in in all-black, and the power duo posed for a picture together just outside the roped off VIP area. Also there? Jeff Perry, who plays Cyrus Beene on “Scandal” and also stars in “Lizzie,” as well as Denis O’Hare, who rocked a fedora at the party.

On Saturday morning, the usual 20-minute drive into town turned into an hour as the Respect Rally -- held in conjunction with Women’s Marches across the country one year after the original demonstrations -- backed up traffic for miles. Once in town, we headed to the rally, where Common was in the middle of delivering an impassioned, important speech to a crowd of thousands in the snow. 

“My imagination has been big, but you all have exceeded my imagination,” he said to cheering. “I just want to say thank you, ladies, for taking over. Thank you to all the women for taking over!”

“The Chi” creator, Lena Waithe, also delivered an emotional speech, as did Nick Offerman and Jane Fonda.

“Maybe every person is not being treated as though he or she were created equally,” Offerman declared during his moment on stage. “And maybe, God dammit, it’s high time they should be!”

It was an empowering gathering as snow was following just outside the Library Theater, and locals and visitors alike turned out in pink hats and held up “I stand with Planned Parenthood” signs.

After the rally, I stopped into the DIRECTV Lodge Presented by AT&T for brunch at the Craig’s pop-up on Main Street. The West Hollywood hot spot, where celebrities are photographed almost every single night, brought their beloved cuisine and chic atmosphere to Park City, and while I ate tomato bisque and honey truffle fried chicken, Dakota Fanning and sister Elle Fanning enjoyed a long lunch at a huge table of people.

The “An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn” panel was up next at Cafe Artois, where cast members Craig Robinson, Aubrey Plaza and Jemaine Clement talked about their new film. Plaza revealed that when she’s going over scrips she “loves” to highlight her lines (“All kinds of colors,” she joked), but clearly didn’t want to discuss the #MeToo movement at length, just hours after the Respect Rally.

“I hope so,” Plaza answered when asked about if she hopes more change is coming to the industry. “I don’t really want to talk about all that stuff, but I hope for the best - always.”

I stopped into the Lyft Lounge next, where I charged my phone and got a coffee, before heading back to Cafe Artois for a Women in Film: Film Finishing Fund Winners Round Table, where prominent female filmmakers discussed their upcoming documentaries focused on a variety of important social issues. 

The panel for “Unsolved; The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G,” an upcoming true crime series on The USA Network, was next on the agenda. The lively event, held down Main Street at The Black House, featured the show’s creators, producers and cast, including Josh Duhamel and “Westworld” star Jimmi Simpson. Tupac’s brother Mopreme Shakur was in the audience, and he received a warm welcome from the packed house.

Afterwards, I sat down with Duhamel and Simpson, who both discussed their roles in the project and how it alters the common perception of what really happened in the lead-up and aftermath of the two rap giants’ murders.

“This is an opportunity for people to go, ‘You know what? It’s not as black and white as we thought it was,'" Duhamel told me of the show. "This is what I hope for it: That people get a chance to see Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls as human beings and not just hip-hop icons."

Before my first screening of the weekend, I stopped into The Kia Supper Suite for a glass of wine at the “Nancy” cast party. 

The world premiere screening of “Leave No Trace,” directed by “Winter’s Bone” director Debra Granik and starring Ben Foster and newcomer Thomasin Harcourt, was packed, and the crowd shifted forward when Foster got out of his car to enter Eccles Theater. He took a couple of selfies with fans before heading in.

The film was an intimate look at a close-knit father-daughter pair whose lives living off the grid outside of Portland, Oregon are turned upside down after Harcourt's character, Tom, is spotted by a passerby. They have difficulty adjusting to life in the social work system, and the film outlines how they struggle to adapt to modern life. After the screening, which was very well-received by the sold out crowd, the entire cast and crew appeared on stage for a Q&A that ended just before midnight. 

Next, it was off to the legendary TAO Park City for my first-ever experience at the notoriously exclusive Sundance nightclub pop-up. While checking my coat, actress Meagan Good walked in a posed on the red carpet, and that was just a preview of what was to come.

“The Hills” star Audrina Patridge partied it up for the second night in a row, and I saw her enjoying her night out with friends as she danced on a couch at her roped-off table. Just feet away was fellow former star of “The Hills,” Brody Jenner, who palled around with DJ Politik on stage at the Tinder and Tequila Don Julio 1942-sponsored event. The tequila was definitely flowing as Emma Roberts and boyfriend Evan Peters (who arrived an hour later than his girlfriend) packed on the PDA next to the stage at the most private table at the club, while Jennifer Lawrence’s ex-boyfriend, director Darren Aronofsky partied with a bunch of friends for hours.

Topping off the night was a highly-teased surprise performance by rapper Post Malone, who kind-of rapped along to his hits like “Rockstar” and “White Iverson” as the sweaty crowd held of their smart phones to put clips of his appearance on their Instagram Stories. I left after one song to avoid the rush at coat check -- the performance was underwhelming.

On Sunday morning, I returned to the Craig’s pop-up dining experience at DIRECTV Lodge, where Forrest Whitaker dined with Andrew Heckler. They were both at Sundance for their new film "Burden." 

Stella Artois’ final panel of the weekend featured the all-star cast of “Monster,” music video director Anthony Mandler's feature film debut. Taking the stage for the Deadline panel were stars Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Jennifer Ehle and producers John Legend, Tonya Lewis Lee and Nikki Silver, among others. Legend -- rocking a black Gucci sweater with a red dragon on it -- received a round of applause when he walked into the room (before even taking the stage), while the intimate crowd took a collective, audible gasp when Spike Lee snuck across the stage before the live stream wearing orange specs that matched his sneakers. He was there in support of his wife, Tonya, and sipped on Stella Artois Cidre during the panel.

When the it started, there were several empty chairs on stage -- stars Jeffrey Wright, A$AP Rocky and Jennifer Hudson were all absent -- though the crowd cheered when A$AP Rocky showed up half way through the panel, and then again when Wright walked in, late because he was at the highly-praised panel featuring Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  J-Hud was sadly a no-show.

A$AP Rocky appears in the film, which is based on the young adult novel by Walter Dean Myers, and he has long had a connection to the source material.

“I read the book in high school, and I didn’t read many books in high school -- ‘Harry Potter’ being one of them,” he said to laughter from the audience. “I’m a bit too old to do ‘Harry Potter,’ but you never know!”

When asked what his fans will learn about him from the film, the rapper proved that he can be the butt of his own jokes.

“I think they’ll learn that I know how to act,” he said with a smile.

After the panel, I grabbed a latte at Harvest -- I spotted Jason Ritter down the block -- as I headed to my second screening of the weekend, Ethan Hawke’s feature film directorial debut at Sundance, “Blaze,” which tells the story of outlaw music legend Blaze Foley and stars Ben Hickey and Alia Shawkat. Shawkat’s “Search Party” co-star John Reynolds grabbed some snacks at the concession stand while supporting his pal, while Jada Pinkett-Smith was a low-key member of the packed audience, rocking a slicked hairdo and a giant white fur coat. After the premiere, Hawke and his cast and crew -- including Sybil Rosen, who was married to Foley and wrote the book that the film was adapted from -- delivered a fun Q&A.

A viewing of the SAG Awards provided a much-welcome break from the Sundance madness. It was wild seeing some of the stars that had appeared just the day before, like Dakota Fanning, at Sundance take the stage at the ceremony a little over 24 hours later.

I started off my final night of the weekend at the “Assassination Nation” premiere party at Chase Sapphire on Main. While walking up, an Acura car pulled up with paparazzi at the ready. As an eclectic group of people wearing fur, rocking multi-colored hair and posing for photos exited the car, it was clear that the talent arriving at the party could only be one person -- former Disney starlet, Bella Thorne, who stars in the film being celebrated at the event.

After posing for photos with her 30-year-old boyfriend Mob Sun, Thorne, 20, entered the venue’s packed basement holding her beau’s hands as a cameraman followed her. She was wearing a cropped magenta wig, shimmering lipstick and a fur coat as she led her posse to a reserved table. As the night went on, the wild crew danced on couches and took photos of each other as the DJ spun throwback emo pop hits from Panic! At the Disco and the like. It was pretty much everything you'd expect from seeing Bella Thorne at a party at Sundance.

Also there was Robert Pattinson, who was casual-cool in a leather jacket as he mingled by the bar just feet away from former host of “The Soup,” Joel McHale. Nearby was Maude Apatow -- actress and daughter of actress Leslie Mann and director Judd Apatow -- who I overheard asking a friend where Pattinson was. He had just left.

Turns out we had the same next destination: He had gone to the “Blaze” premiere party at Cafe Artois, which was in full-swing just after 11. Shawkat was dancing the night away with comedian Jessica Williams, who was rocking an incredible afro and velvet jumpsuit, former “Girls” actor Christopher Abbott, Pattinson and their friends. Maggie Gyllenhaal, who I saw politely decline a selfie request from a fellow party attendee, was also definitely enjoying herself, which she was at to support pal Hawke. 

The actor/director hung out with his wife, Ryan Hawke (she was also a producer of the film), and after the lights had turned on just after midnight to signal the end of the party, I saw the couple chilling with “Game of Thrones” actor Peter Dinklage on a couch by the bar.

To top off the night, it was time for one more round at TAO Park City, where Salt-N-Pepa were partying the night away.

__________

To be sure, Sundance is a slightly overwhelming experience. With stars everywhere, screenings coinciding at the same time all weekend long and countless invite-only parties being thrown every night, it’s impossible to see everything or spot every A-lister in attendance (the FOMO is real!), but the over-abundance is also what makes it so exciting; you never know what will happen next.

The excessive branding can feel over-the-top, but then you remember that all of these sponsored events and spaces and parties at Sundance are there for the same, positive reason: At the end of the day, they’re supporting independent filmmaking and all of the artists that are involved.

It may be an optimistic view of the excess of major corporations and branded swag present at a film festival, but in an environment in which it feels as though the arts and the media are consistently under fire, spending a weekend surrounded by people and brands who are passionate about and invested in art -- and who are pushing for that art to continue to become more diverse, inclusive and boundary-pushing than ever -- just felt good. And sometime that’s all we can really ask for.

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