More than 10,000 Sundance Film Festival patrons were assisted by some very important people this weekend at the Grand Theatre.
Volunteers, sporting broad smiles and Kenneth Cole reversible grey and hunter orange jackets, are credited with a major role in the successful return of Sundance to Salt Lake Community College.
Sundance volunteers, from varied places and walks of life, are well-known among attendees for their hospitality, dedication and cheery disposition, as they serve patrons on multiple shifts to bring a first-rate experience.
Festivalgoers LD Artman and Alan Mueller have nothing but praise for the volunteers and program.
“People have been very kind, generous and helpful,” Artman says. “Everyone has been very accommodating and thoughtful.”
Artman and Mueller are qualified reviewers, as they screened 9 of the 10 different films that premiered at the Grand from Friday to Sunday.
“We will have seen [every film] but one … but we will be back next weekend [to see it],” Mueller says, and adds how much they enjoyed every aspect of Sundance at the Grand.
Students take part
Ghazaleh Asrari, originally from Iran, just completed her core requirement for the SLCC animation program and is studying for a second degree in biology to reach a future goal in dentistry.
Although her work and school time is limited, Asrari wanted to help bring Sundance to the Grand, so she applied online for a volunteer position last fall.
“I’m a movie freak and I follow major film festivals — from Cannes to Toronto to Berlin,” Asrari says.
Volunteering gave Asrari a way to attend the festival, an expense that she says would be tight on a student budget.
She signed up for double shifts and later realized that she didn’t really have time to use the six tickets she was offered, or even attend the volunteer party.
“I only have six days left and I am volunteering next weekend, too,” Asrari says.
Despite the hectic schedule, Asrari says she has been able to watch some films while serving as an usher — and appreciates all the perks that come in the volunteer swag bag.
Laura Penniso drove down from Boise, Idaho to volunteer for the second time at Sundance. She arrived Thursday to pitch in and will return Tuesday after completing two weekend double shifts.
“There were some familiar faces and everybody is very nice and gets along well,” Penniso says of her fellow volunteers.
As to why she goes to such lengths to support the Festival and venue, Penniso says she loves doing what she can to help in a contagiously upbeat environment.
“It’s very positive — the volunteers, patrons, leads and patrons all say ‘thanks for volunteering’ because they know we are needed,” Penniso says. “Plus, you get one shot, this is your life … so, why not?”