Ah, Sundance — that wonderful time of year when indie movie producers scuttle around in parkas trying to sell their latest products and third of Los Angeles descends on the comparatively innocent town of Park City, Utah, for 10 days of screenings, swag, and snow. Festivities kicked off last night, but for those there and those soon to arrive, there are still nine more days of open bars, packed restaurants, and long lines outside the Egyptian Theater to weather. Because we wouldn’t want to see you freeze to death while chatting up Sarah Polley on a chilly sidewalk or anything like that, we’ve turned to our friend, filmmaker and Sundance vet Afolabi Kuti, for a few tips to help you make the festival your bitch.
1. Stay Healthy
In case you hadn’t noticed, Sundance is cold as a witch’s teet and thousands of people arrive off packed planes carrying the best germs the world has to offer. If you don’t want to spend the next few days coughing, shivering, and sweating through every screening, drink lots of water to stay hydrated and bring Airborne or Emergen-C. It’s also dry as hell up there, so lotion, chapstick and sunscreen should be in your survival bag. Even though it’s winter people still get sunburned in the high altitude. I think the constant change in temperature effects people too, going from hot packed screenings to the freezing cold outside so layers that you can take on and off easily are vital (and fashionable if done right).
2. Be Nice To The Sundance Volunteers
Sure, the festival is packed to the rafters with Hollywood phonies, millionaire celebs, and just about every kind of snob there is. Don’t be one of them. If it’s your first time there, you’re going to get turned around and confused and the volunteers out on the sidewalks and in the theaters know the fest better than anyone and hear all the buzz about what films are good and what is going on. But they’re under no obligation assist jerks. They are the festival’s secret gold, so it pays to be nice to them.
3. Stop By Eccles
Yes, yes — the Egyptian Theater is the most famous venue, and other theaters have their charms. But for a newbie, the Eccles is a great place to start your screening experience. If arrive without a lot of “ins”, head to the Eccles box office get a ticket for the wait list. It’s the biggest theater around, so there’s a better chance that they’ll have spare seats or returns. Also, Eccles is by far the best place to enjoy a Q&A with filmmakers and cast.
4. Blowing It? Go Skiing
Maybe you’re not getting into screenings, swag tents, or sponsored liquor events like you thought you would. Don’t just go back to your hotel room and watch “G.I. Joe” OnDemand. This is one of the best ski resorts in the country (or so they tell me). Why waste the opportunity if it’s there? Park City is more than celeb photo ops and darkly comic coming-of-age stories. Personally, I’ve been far too scared to ever ski in my life… but let’s just put that down to being “too busy” with the festival.
Thanks to the festival and ski tourism, Park City has become home to some truly wonderful eateries. It would be a shame to miss Butcher’s Chop House on Main Street or ChefDance (some say it’s the best dining experience you’ll have in your life). If you just need a quick, cheap tuck, I’d recommend a slice of the veggie pizza at the Yarrow Hotel (which is also the answer to the most asked question at the festival, “where is Holiday?”).
6. Use Public Transportation
Stars get free SUV shuttle service around town as the jaunt from swag tent to hotel to screening. Guess what, you’re not one of them. Shuttles are FREE to all Sundance theaters, resorts, and Main Street. Using them could be the biggest moneysaver of the whole fest.
For more on Sundance go to festival.sundance.org.