Guest Blogger Andy Smith Keeps Us Posted from Sundance

It was by all accounts a full afternoon.  After lunch, we were treated to a great keynote by David Bordwell, who provided a really interesting historical perspective on the digital transition. I read a lot of Bordwell in college, and it's pretty cool to get to meet him in person. His interest in our field is really great.
It was a bit of a surprise but after talking to Ava DuVernay this morning, she asked if I'd be willing to sit on her panel on Race and the Art House this afternoon (one of the panelists had flight problems). The panel ended up being really great. There are some clear issues with diversity within the art house world and Ava's story of frustration as a film maker was really revealing. As an exhibitor, I spoke of some of the traditional excuses used to avoid showing work by filmmakers of color and stressed the importance of taking a more wholistic and genuine approach to diversifying our audiences. It was a real honor to get to sit next to Ava and look forward to working with her more in the future (by the way, I told Ava the price of me joining her panel was her agreeing to record a short video for the nick pushing her film. If you haven't seen it, it's on our Facebook page.
Following our panel was a really great session with Tim League from Alamo Drafthouse. They've become the leaders in the commercial art house world and are expanding their theaters at an impressive rate. The session focused on useful metrics and I found myself drooling throughout, wishing we could implement these measurements at the Nick (I know, this probably sounds dreadfully boring to most folks).
Dinner was a big highlight tonight. The chicken was surprisingly tasty and moist and some guy named Robert Redford spoke. He seemed pretty cool. I sat next to Gary Meyer at dinner, founder of the Telluride Film Festival, who has organized a panel in the morning on customer service that I'll also be sitting on. After dinner, we were treated to a special performance by Cripsin Glover. Crispin has been doing these performances at different art houses around the country, and Isaac and I are pretty convinced we need to bring him to Columbia. Lots more to come tomorrow...