Over my entire 27 years as a Utah native, I’ve heard about the legend that is Sundance.
A film festival for the new Gods, the first to showcase the films that would shape Hollywood’s future heroes and heroines.
The place where the stars go to relight and where dreamers go to wish upon these very stars.
As I drove up that winding winter canyon, down a peaceful Parleys summit and onto a quiet two-lane highway, I asked myself: “What’s so big about Sundance?”
There is an obvious allure that Sundance has on a global level; something I could not yet grasp from the small town feel it had.
I made my first stop at the grounds of Park City High School, close to a film screening at the adjacent Eccles Center. I joined the ticketholders line in an attempt to gain some Sundance cultural insight. I stood there for about 15 minutes, simply soaking in every accent from the internationally diverse chattering line.
I was there to see Lovelace, a biopic about ‘70s adult film star Linda Lovelace. This was especially amusing to me personally as I sat in a theater attached to a Utah public school, waiting to see a film largely influenced by the skin flick Deep Throat – a film that the state once banned.
I was seated next to a couple who had traveled from their home state of Ohio to the Sundance film festival for the past seven years. Lynn Ervin and her husband said they simply fell in love with the culture, citing the unpredictable nature of events and the always present possibility of running into celebrities.
Like many at Sundance, Ervin uses the Sundance Film Festival smartphone app to navigate through the 21 films on her queue for the 10 day long festival.
After watching my very first Sundance film, I can understand why people flock to this snowy mountain town every year. Pure and simple, it is truly all about the films. These really are the kind films that must be appreciated at their purest level, as works of art.
“This is the biggest film festival in the country,” says Sundance assistant merchandising manager Steve Smith. “You can go anywhere, and you don’t ever here people say, ‘that’s a Toronto movie’ or ‘that’s a Cannes movie’ but you hear ‘that’s a Sundance movie.’”
Smith credits this international branding success to fact the Sundance has produced some of Hollywood’s biggest hits. Donnie Darko and Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs are only a couple on a long list of Sundance hit films.
My time spent at Sundance was only a few short hours. However, as I boarded the bus off Park City’s Main Street, I couldn’t help but feel changed by the magic. Robert Redford’s little film festival that could has chugged its way over those snowy Utah mountains and frozen its place as the biggest little film festival the world has ever seen.