indieWIRE raced uptown Tuesday night for a premiere party and we found ourselves sipping champagne amongst racks of clothes, wandering celebrities and tasty morsels served by a really hot staff…
Fox Searchlight threw its New York bash for Mira Nair’s “Amelia,” with a screening at the Paris Theatre in Midtown, followed by a party at Bloomingdales on the Upper East Side (Bloomies and Vanity Fair co-hosted the bash). indieWIRE arrived at the party on the early side, and we walked all the way around the perimeter of the store looking for the usual party props that would indicate the entrance: pushy photographers, curious crowds, a step and repeat, a red carpet, a bevy of publicists or a scattering of Secret Service lookalikes who serve as security. But none of that. From the outside, it could’ve been any other Tuesday night outside Bloomingdales flagship store in Manhattan, at least initially. After scanning our invitation, we walked back to where it said to enter, and found only a couple of photographers gathered on the sidewalk.
The two or three cameramen immediately turned and started snapping actor Ewan McGregor as he exited a car with a small group of people, and walked inside the store. And with that, we followed him and eventually found ourselves on the third floor for the party, where three makeshift bars had been set up, and invitees had gathered. This was definitely different from the “usual premiere party,” whatever that means, but several people indieWIRE ran into seemed to agree. Folks even joked that they felt the urge just to grab something off the rack (but that didn’t happen). Inside, displays were full of Amelia Earhart-inspired aviator clothing and costumes, and a wall displayed Earhart’s rise to fame as the first female pilot to fly across the Atlantic and the first person ever to fly from Hawaii to California.
As a tie-in with the film, which Searchlight is opening this Friday, October 23, nine Bloomingdales store locations in New York, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles are promoting the Amelia look for its customers. The specialty distributor is also teaming with Vanity Fair for a five market screening program that will take place October 22 in the same cities.
“I think she’s a role model,” director Mira Nair told indieWIRE during a very quick chat inside a crowded area of the party Tuesday night. “She was someone who wanted to write her own rules, and then had the need to break those rules.” Nair went on to say that she wanted to explore the balance of “living beyond herself” and how she cultivated her growing persona prior to her ultimate disappearance over the Pacific in 1937. indieWIRE mentioned a recent column in the New York Times by David Carr in which Nair described Earhart as “America’s first celebrity,” saying she was “a hero of the protofeminist movement for her single-mindedness, [she] was also commercially shrewd and aware that her fame had uses beyond her own gratification,” also using her name to write books, product endorsements and even designing her own “active living” clothing line.
“I love that she’s the first celebrity…” Nair said, then abruptly jumping up out of her chair, yelling “Anna!” With that, our impromptu (by way of a helpful Fox Searchlight publicist) chat was over. Nair cuddled up with Anna Hamilton Phelan, who co-wrote the film (meanwhile, attendees avidly debated the pros and cons of the movie itself). The two were then awash under a glow of flashes by several photographers who were waiting nearby.
Also in the room were Oscar-winning star Hilary Swank along with Richard Gere as well as McGregor who all star in the film. The movie is opening the first Doha Tribeca Film Festival next week in the Middle East (indieWIRE will be there, so maybe we’ll have a chance to reconnect with Nair).
After leaving the celebrity inner sanctum (security kept the other attendees at a distance), we ran into British actor Joe Anderson – also in the film – and his lovely wife near one of the bars. The couple had flown in for the premiere from their home in Los Angeles, but were scheduled to head out soon after.
“I don’t think this party could ever happen back in the U.K.,” Anderson told iW. “All of the clothes would reak of smoke.”