Upfront

Mar
2009

Sundancing with the Stars

“Never Hide” is Ray-Ban’s ever-popular campaign phrase. And at the Sundance Film Festival in January, hide they did not. In fact, an official sponsor for Sundance, Ray-Ban seemed to be everywhere at the Park City, Utah, film fest. And I don’t just mean on everyone’s faces, but there were plenty of Ray-Bans there too. On the streets Ray-Ban vans could be seen traveling throughout the snow-covered mountains, transporting festival attendees.

But it didn’t end there. In concert with the notion of not hiding, Ray-Ban “confessional booths” in select locations around town enticed Ray-Ban wearers to divulge their deepest, darkest. “Who is the most overrated person here?” and “What is the worst date you have ever been on?” were a few of the playful questions listed at the booths.  On Main Street, Marty Shattuck, owner of All Sports Eyewear reported on the constant influx into the confessional booth in his store. “People are coming in with really fun Ray-Bans and piling up as many people as they can into the booth. They’re really having a lot of fun with it.”

Out on the street, the paparazzi were sending some celebrities into hiding. Within the first 20 minutes of arriving into town, a blur of a person running from a bevy of photographers was said to have been Paris Hilton. There were plenty of other celebrity sightings that were less covert−really, the celebs are just milling about Main Street like anyone else. Pierce Brosman, Cuba Gooding Jr., Brittany Snow, Kevin Sorbo. The list goes on. But at the showing of 500 Days of Summer, a great quirky boy-meets-girl kind of film, I found myself star-struck for the first time since I’d arrived. Sitting behind me was John Krasinski, who plays the loveable Jim Halpert on the show The Office. With my beloved Jim so close I thought it would be hard to focus, but the movie was just too good for distractions.

At Sundance the celebrity never ends. By the last night of the trip it was no longer about spotting stars on the street, but honoring one at the much-anticipated Ray-Ban Visionary Awards event. Held this year in an intimate tent setting, with music provided by celebrity DJ Brent Bolthouse, the awards ceremony is a party in its own right. Ray-Ban and the Creative Coalition, a nonprofit organization for arts and entertainment, honor “an individual who possesses extraordinary passion, creativity and leadership, and whose work showcases vision, imagination and originality.” This year’s recipient was actor Ewan McGregor, who has a legacy of great acting in a litany of films, each with drastically different, equally compelling roles. Vittorio Verdun, vice president of marketing for Luxottica Group U.S. introduced actor Alan Cumming to present the award to his friend. “This has got to be a first: a Scottish actor presenting an award to another Scottish actor up a mountain in Utah,” said Cumming. McGregor, who was at Sundance for the first time in 14 years accepted the award and expressed his awe for the diverse crowd the festival gathers. “[There are] film makers and actors and directors and writers and film buffs and people that are just here because they were skiing… I’m so happy to be a part of that and this makes it even more special.”

On the drive back to the airport, I thought about something Pierre Fay,  Luxottica’s senior vice president had said. “I love the connection of Sundance to Ray-Ban. Sundance is an all-American event with independent films and Ray-Ban captures that American, independent spirit.” Ears popping from the pressure of descending the altitude of Park City, I looked at the mountains around me and that American spirit was everywhere.    
 
—Melissa Arkin

 

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