While in Salt Lake City for Alt Summit I did start and end my trip in Utah with time spent in Park City for Sundance. Picture this; the glamour, the glitz, the snow, the layers, and the lines. Park City is at its core an adorable ski town (you can catch a ride on a ski lift right off maint street), that just happens to host a film festival every January. The celebs roll into town to promote their latest projects and roll right out just as quickly.
When I knew I'd be in Salt Lake City for Alt Summit during Sundance, I couldn't miss out on the opportunity to attend the festival. After frequenting the Savannah Film Festival for the past, oh, 4 or 5 years, I thought why not give Sundance a turn.
My traveling companion, Melissa, flew in from Savannah to do Salt Lake City and Park City with me. While I was at Alt Summit she skied Alta. The perfect traveling companion scenario.
We used a car service to trek the 30 or so miles back and forth between Salt Lake City (our home-base) and Park City. If you've never used a car service, which I had not, I highly recommend it. We had to pay a pretty penny for this luxury, but it took so much of the hassle out of navigating unknown roads in the middle of a dark and snowy wonderland. Plus, there's no public transportation between Salt Lake City and Park City, so we really had no other option. At least that's how I justify the expense.
I had the foresight to purchases passes well in advance of Sundance, so we had all our movie tickets in hand. The pass purchasing along with the movie selecting is all very time consuming. You have to pre register for a time slot to purchase your pass and then do the same for the movie selection. There are a LOT of hoops to jump through. Then ultimately several of the movies I wanted to see; jOBS, Before Midnight, and Austenland, were sold out or playing at theaters in other cities. Yes, Sundance doesn't only take place in Park City, it's spread out over a number of cities surrounding Park City.
Then there's the part of Sundance that was a bit surprising. Only one of the numerous "theaters" in Park City during Sundance are actual theaters. The rest are a school theater, a racquet club, and various makeshift screening rooms. The only real theater, I believe, is the Egyptian Theater on main street. A petite theater, which took the Egyptian theme and ran with it. It's an adorable venue, reminiscent of my local art house/indie/foreign (what have you) theater. There were a number of free shuttles to transport you from one venue to another, a lifesaver in the chilly temperatures.
Our passes not only gained us entree into the closing night party but also into various sponsored "houses", co-ops, venues, and cafes. These were all rather lackluster except for the venue which had a space sponsored by Loreal Paris (hello free merchandise in exchange for a makeover) and featured a "Sundance" themed photo-booth.
Main street itself had an equal mix of shops filled to the brim with touristy trinkets along with a fair mix of more appealing shops with an array of native, western, and cold weather accessories for ones person and home. I just couldn't leave town without a pair of earrings from Davies Reid. They're silver and I'm never usually drawn to silver, but apparently I am when in Park City. Main street also had a variety of options for a bite. We did the one meal per day in Park City, as that was really all that time allowed for. We had BBQ at Bandits which was drop dead delicious and Mexican at Blue Iguana, which offered not only delicious fare but also some local color.
We had tickets to five films each of the days spent at Sundace, but ended up selling off two each day. Three movies a day ended up being more our speed. The first day was Lovelace, Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes, and Touchy Feely. The second day was: In a World..., Muscle Shoals, and Two Mothers. They all ran the gamut of themes, but interestingly enough, all, except for Muscle Shoals (a documentary about the music coming out of a small town in Alabama), had strong female leads. Several were very intense to sit through, Lovelace and Emauel and the Truth About Fishes specifically. My top three picks would have to be: Lovelace, In a World..., and Muscle Shoals. All but two of the films had representation for the Q+A after the screening. Aside from getting to see films far in advance of their national release, the perk of a festival screenings is without a doubt the dialog during the Q+A. The festival, for us, started on a high note with Amanda Seyfriend and Peter Skarsgaard being present at the 9am screening of Lovelace. At the world premier (yes, WORLD premier) of Muscle Shoals, they had great representation from many of the gentleman featured in the documentary. Representation for the other films was in the way of writers, directors, and producers.
The pinnacle of Sundance was supposed to be the Awards Night Party. There was a DJ, appetizers, an open bar, a photo booth!!! (of which we took more than our alloted turns), and the presence Ed Burns and Lake Bell. Both of whom my friend spoke to, I just don't do things like that, so I held back. The party was a good time, but not that good of a time.
The people we encoutered in line, or on the shuttle, or just walking about Park City were one of the highlights. Everyone seemed to be from elsewhere and they really made the experience; offering recommendations, tips, and just good conversation.
Scheduling of a return visit for next year is already in the works.