Take a sleepy mountain resort, bring in nearly 200 feature films and shorts, add a crush of filmmakers, industry peers, movie fans, and partiers — and you get the Sundance Film Festival.
Every year Sundance takes over Park City, Utah for a dive into the latest in independent and mainstream films, and the movies shown often end up setting the agenda for the year to come. It’s the kind of scene where you can listen to Nick Cave talk about his movie in one moment, and then learn about the life of a local shop owner the next — and there’s no telling which will be the more interesting conversation. Back from our trip, we take a look at the things we saw along the way.
Sundance is a marathon, not a sprint, but I found myself wanting to catch every single thing the festival had to offer. When you haven’t seen a new movie before — when nobody in the world has really seen the movie before — those first screenings are filled with the vibrating hope of possibility and creative potential. Add in the presence of the filmmakers themselves, and the intimate setting provides an experience unlike anything else. Despite the lines, logistics, and corporate sheen, Sundance continues to feel like ground zero for the next wave of emerging filmmakers — and the only regret I had was that I couldn’t squeeze in just one more screening before I left.
Sundance is the one place where I don’t mind waiting in line. People show up really early for movies at the festival, and while you wait you inevitably wind up introducing yourself to everyone around you. This year I met vacationing high school students, aspiring filmmakers, movie-loving retirees, and true fans in line to see movies they had backed on Kickstarter. Everyone had an opinion on which films at the festival were underrated, overrated, and “must see” — information I used to chart my own path through the catalog. I never see half the things I want to, but my fellow filmgoers help me see way better movies than I would otherwise — and distract me from the freezing temperatures that are a hallmark of Park City in January.