“The reason Bruce isn’t here is that he didn’t want to take away from the movie,” Chadha told a packed Eccles Theatre after the screening.
The Bend It Like Beckham helmer also regaled the “Bruce” chanting crowd in their mutual hero’s reaction to BBTL at a private screening last year. “Thank you for looking after me so beautifully,” Chadha recalled the singer told her. “Don’t change a thing, it’s perfect,” Springsteen added, according to the director
Springsteen’s absence tonight was a bit of surprise as it has been rumored for days the Jersey boy would be showing up at the premiere. At one point, it looked like a video greeting of some sort from Springsteen may substitute for him being there in person, but that was not to be.
What was to be was a loud Sundance Film Festival Day 4 standing ovation for the British flick at its conclusion – an ending that featured photos of Bruce in the credits with the film’s principals.
Even before Blinded by the Light started, the atmosphere in the Eccles was more concert-like than standard screening. “Everyone is here for a good time, right?” said Sundance alum Chadha before the film actually started to cheers from the crowd. To make the point, Chadha then led the more than 1000 attendees in a partial sing-a-long of Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart” before teasing that she’d be back afterwards “with some people.”
Those people turned out to lead Viveik Kalra and massive Springsteen fan Sarfraz Manzoor, who’s Greetings from Bury Park book was the basis of the music filled and Hayley Atwell and Rob Brydon co-staring film.
Manzoor’s writing details the future Channel4 Commissioning Editor’s life growing up as Muslim immigrant in the UK in the hardscrabble 1980s. Specifically, transcending race and religion, the book, and the movie from Chadha, digs into the deep influence that musician’s words and tunes had on Manzoor’s dream to be a writer and his family.
For a festival that has seen more than a fair share of rockstars, hip hop legends, like the Wu-Tang Clan this year, and top tier musicians over the decades, a Springsteen Sundance landing Sunday would have been one of the biggest ever. So much so that the Boss probably called it right as not to split focus at the very least from the pic.
Blinded by the Light itself, of course, snags its title from a song on Springsteen’s 1973 debut album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.
In fact, having appeared in the likes of past SFF offerings like Twenty Feet from Stardom, the Garden State singer and his music hasn’t just been a presence on screen at Sundance.
Not in Utah in person, Springsteen was a presence on stage this year too in another way. Saturday night saw Feist, The Head and the Heart, Patty Griffin and more pay tribute to Springsteen and BBTL in a literally and figuratively jam packed 20th anniversary Celebration of Music and Film concert in chilly Park City.
Though he didn’t show up at Sundance and having just wrapped up a widely successful stint on Broadway last month, there could maybe be new territory on the horizon for the beloved Boss soon-ish.
With an Oscar, a boatload of Grammys, a couple of Golden Globes and most recently a Tony last year for his 236 show Springsteen on Broadway run, Springsteen just might prove a contender for an Emmy too. On December 15 last year, Netflix dropped Springsteen on Broadway special the day after the actual show closed. A special that the streamer surely will be aiming to get in front of TV Academy voters next year in the Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special category.
Even without a bit of the Boss and all, the 2019 Sundance Film Festival continues until February 3.