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Avoiding slush puddles at Sundance

Keener, Hoffman and Bill Gates take part in festivities

Heavy snow marked the first few days of the Sundance Film Festival, causing nightmarish travel delays for showbizzers and other VIPS.

Tricky maneuvering was required to get around Park City on foot. On opening night, Catherine Keener walked carefully down Main Street trying to avoid slush puddles after seeing her pal Spike Jonze’s short film “I’m Here.”

The post-screening party, hosted by the film’s financier Absolut Vodka, served as a reunion for various Sundance alums, including helmers Taika Waititi, Jody Hill and fest’s 2004 and 2009 docu prizewinner Ondi Timoner, who is on the docs jury this year.

Bill Gates showed up at a dinner on Friday for education docu “Waiting for Superman,” in which he’s featured. Helmer Davis Guggenheim and financier/producer Jeff Skoll were relaxed, thanks to their freshly inked deal on the film with Paramount.

Docu’s producer Lesley Chilcott participated in a Women in Film panel on Sunday calling for “an education war,” or that everyone at least needs to start thinking about the education crisis that way.

Among other musical greats in Park City, Joan Jett played on Saturday night, and again on premiere night of the pic based on the story of her first band, “The Runaways.”

Jonze and Rinko Kikuchi popped into a dinner on Friday for Sony Classics’ “Please Give,” where others in the mix included the film’s Keener, Amanda Peet and Oliver Platt.

Environmental visionary Lester Brown flew in for Washington D.C. to support “Climate Refugees,” which preemed at the fest on Saturday. In a telling twist, the film’s post-party had to be moved because the original venue couldn’t be accessed due to all the snow.

Snowstorms lifted on Sunday. A few rays of sun shone on Gersh’s brunch, where Sundancers enjoyed a laid-back hang with thesp-helmer Josh Radnor and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was there with the cast from his directing bow “Jack Goes Boating.”

Hoffman was also honored that night with the Acura Indie Impact award at Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch party. Hoffman was emotional as he accepted the kudo from his longtime friend and collaborator John Ortiz. He noted the importance of relationships in his artistic world and said, “if it’s personal, it’s independent.”

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