PARK CITY — As festival officials are fond of saying, Sundance is supposed to be all about the movies, not the stars. Which is why I regret that I saw fewer of them — movies, that is — than usual as this year's festival.

In fact, I saw nearly as many Sundance movies at pre-festival screenings — "Waitress," "Fido," "Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten" — than I did at in-progress Sundance screenings.

So I'm not sure if that's why I was more impressed with the short films than the features. In fact, I'd have to say my favorite thing I saw this year lasted only eight minutes.

That was the fantastic "Moto Drom," a short documentary about motorcycle and auto racing that was unlike anything else (it received enthusiastic applause, a rarity for a Sundance short).

Also, award-winning animator Don Hertzfeldt's latest short, "Everything Will Be OK" was pretty amusing, as was the charming "Day Off the Dead," a six-minute film featuring skeleton characters. (The latter was not at Sundance, but at the TromaDance event.)

I should note that my least favorite thing was also a short, "Black and White Tripps Number Three." It was a tiresome, 11-minute concert "mosh pit," from the perspective of the band.

Also, I did go out of my way to see a few animated features.

The political documentary "Chicago 10" featured animated re-creations of events from the violent riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, but I'm not sure they were a good fit with newsreel footage.

And I was hugely disappointed in both Katushiro Otomo's indecipherable live-action/digitally animated hybrid "Bugmaster," and "We Are the Strange," which, unfortunately, lived up to its title.

CELEBRITY SIGHTINGS. Among this year's festival highlights for me were seeing actress Zooey Deschanel, a favorite (she was touting "The Go-Getter"), and witnessing James Franco manage to out-weird Crispin Glover.

I also got to interview Antonio Banderas, who was a real charmer (I did double-duty for the Deseret Morning News and local radio station KXRK-FM).

And as usual, there was one klutzy moment at the festival involving a celebrity.

A couple of years ago, I ran straight into Forest Whitaker after doing a quick 180 turn in front of the Park City Marriott. This year, it was Bob Balaban, who prevented me from nearly sliding down Park City's Main Street.

I was hurrying to make an interview appointment when I lost my footing on the icy sloped sidewalk. I grabbed onto the nearest person, who just happened to be the veteran character actor ("Close Encounters of the Third Kind," various Christopher Guest movies).

I uttered an embarrassed "Thank you, Bob Balaban." Without hesitation, he replied, "You're welcome, whoever you are."

Trust me, he was nicer than that probably sounds. (He was at Sundance to promote the upcoming dark comedy "Dedication.")


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com