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PARK CITY -- New York has the ball drop. California hosts the Rose Bowl. And Utah, although known for many other things, is the place the Sundance Film Festival calls home. Filmmakers and movie buffs set up camp here for 10 days, bringing a little bit of movie magic to Park City. Some Utahns feel like it’s a party in their own backyard that they’re not invited to.
Sundance is local, but is it for locals?
The folks that run the independent film showcase say, “Yes!” And there’s more to do than meander around, hoping for a celebrity sighting. Those who have snubbed Sundance in the past may want to reconsider ignoring the popular festival started in 1981 and join in the fun this year.
Take in a screening
Sundance is a chance for Utah residents to get the first glimpse at the fresh and diverse works that come out of the festival before the rest of the country, and even the rest of the world, giving the state of Utah major bragging rights.
And these Sundance films are being shown in more theaters than ever this year. Screenings have been set up in Utah County, Peery’s Egyptian Theatre in Ogden, and at the screening room in the Salt Lake library. The drive to Park City isn’t even necessary to be part of the festivities, although you’ll be missing out on the full Sundance experience and excitement if you don’t make the trip.
We have over 1,800 volunteers this year and over 1,000 of them are from Utah. Our local volunteers are absolutely crucial to our success. We couldn't do it without them.
–- Jill Miller, managing director, Sundance Institute
One of the best ways to get in on all the action is to volunteer or work at Sundance. Jill Miller, managing director for the Sundance Institute, says of Sundance volunteers, “We have over 1,800 volunteers this year and over 1,000 of them are from Utah. Volunteers have the opportunity to be part of the larger festival community, see films and experience all of the non-screening activities. They support a fun annual international event.” Miller says, “Our local volunteers are absolutely crucial to our success. We couldn't do it without them and the energy they bring to the 10 days is unparalleled.”
Best of the Fest
After the festival winds down, Sundance screens some of the most popular works from previous years to the local community at "Best of the Fest". These free screenings will be held at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, on the evening of January 30th and it's first come, first serve.
Sundance is also hosting "Townie Tuesdays" in Park City, another perk for locals from Summit County who want to take in free films. Tickets will be distributed on Jan. 23rd at the Park City main box office.
Welcome the economic help
Sure, the traffic may be heavier for a few days and attractions may be a bit more crowded, but welcome the economic impact that comes along with the over 30,000 visitors from around the world that show up for the biggest independent film showing around. Sundance brought with it over $70 million to Utah last year, and Sundance estimates that Utah’s profits are around $250 million within the last five years. The exposure Utah gets from the festival increases tourism, and that figure is immeasurable.
Sundance loves Utah, and Utah should continue to show Sundance some love in return.
Miller believes it’s a perfect partnership.
“With the Festival's presence in Utah for over 25 years, Utahns have a sophisticated and experienced palette for independent film — and there really is something for everyone. Thus Utah community's support for the Festival (15,000 seats filled by Utahns at the 2011 Festival), and specifically for those filmmakers bringing their films to Utah, is strong, welcoming and encouraging. It's a great match.”
Nicole Pollard currently resides in Canyon Country, Calif.