From experiencing new cultures to trying new cuisines, there are countless reasons to travel. Â One of my favorite things to experience during a trip, and something Iâ€™ll often go out of my way to get to, is a festival. Â Be it cultural, music or something else, festivals are exciting because they only temporarily exist at a special place and time, often with an energy you canâ€™t really explain. Â Such was the case with this yearâ€™s Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
Having started 30 years ago, the Sundance Film Festival is well known for its association with Robert Redford and itâ€™s focus on independent films. Â Over 12,000 films were submitted for this yearâ€™s festival with 121 features and 66 shorts being selected to run during the festival. Â A total of 21 Utah theaters, 14 of them in Park City, screen these films over a 10 day period from mid- to late-January. Â Long lines and heavy traffic are a hallmark of the early part of the festival, but the people thin out as the festival nears the end.
The Sundance Experience
I have had two completely different experiences at Sundance. Â I first attended about seven years ago while working for a producer in Hollywood. Â We came up with a client who was sponsoring a party, and my duties kept me so busy during the festival I didnâ€™t really have a chance to experience much of it. Â This time, however, I was on my own and took advantage of the flexibility that offered to wander and focus on what interested me.
I started by taking in a panel discussion where four filmmakers were discussing their films and filmmaking in general. Â From there I found some free food sponsored by Chase before heading up to meet up with a friend from Los Angeles who was working the festival. Â After catching up and getting the lowdown on what to check out, I found the AirBnB house and grabbed a coffee before heading to â€œThe Sourceâ€, and art-like setup with short clips of Doug Aitken interviewing a wide range of individuals about where the creative idea starts. Â I finished my day at a pop-up festival cafe showcasing three hours of music.
For those who might be interested in attending in future years, unless you are a fanatic about films, I would recommend going towards the end of the festival. Â The later you go, youâ€™ll have less industry people to deal with, less traffic and more access to films and other festival activities. Â Of course, if your goal is to rub elbows with celebrities and be at the premieres and parties, get there early and be sure to purchase a badge that will give you the access you are seeking.