The middle of January has become known as Sundance Week in Park City, as this is the time when the Sundance Film Festival takes over the town. Sundance is the largest independent film festival in the world and attracts several thousand people who make the films, produce the films, purchase films or are just here to watch the films and partake in the festivities. This is the 30th anniversary of Sundance and it has become more than just a screening venue for films. Celebrities now are here to see and be seen and many musical performances and concerts are held. Like last year, Blues Traveler, the wonderful blues band will be playing at one of the local hotels as well as many other surprise performances.
There are several ways to do Sundance. If you are really a film buff and you are here to see the movies, the best way to go is to buy one of the many packages. These guarantee you seats at selected films as well as entry into the screening rooms, interview rooms and music events. Another way is just to get a festival pass which will get you into many of the Sundance venues and then take your chance and do waitlisting for the movies. For every screening there are a certain amount of no-shows, more or less depending on the popularity of the film and a half an hour prior to the start of the film any remaining seats are re-sold to a waitlist. In the past you actually had to go to the venue and stand in line hoping that you could get in but this year they are doing it online, a far more civilized approach.
Then there’s music. Music is all around town, one of the local galleries on Main turns into the Music Café where top-rated performances are almost spontaneous. Last year I walked in and Kenny Loggins was playing. Very small very intimate, very enjoyable. If you are here to enjoy Sundance you want to keep your ears open and find out who’s all of a sudden decided to play and where. You never know who’s going to show up at one of the bars in town or at a private party somewhere. And then of course it’s using your charm to get into these. But probably the best advice for anybody attending Sundance is to use our wonderful free public transportation as driving is absolutely impossible. Unlike a typical busy holiday season, where all the cars are parked at the ski resort everyone is driving around town to get to the venues or to get up to Main Street to see what stars are walking around. Maddening, infuriating, and impossible to get around so use our bus system—you will have a much nicer experience.
With these thoughts in mind, Sundance can be a highlight of your year. There’s nothing quite like the energy and excitement around town, particularly later in the festival when a visit to a restaurant may encounter a table full of people toasting and high-fiving each other which means that they sold their film. Other times you may be seated next to a group of people about to show their film for the first time and are hoping that the reviews are favorable and that someone will like it enough to purchase it. All in all, a lot of energy and interesting films. Don’t be afraid to take in a film you’ve never heard of or if the subject sounds quite odd because it could be a terrific film. But most of all, enjoy, take in the sights and the sounds, keep your eyes open for star sightings and ears open for spontaneous events that pop up.