First started as a way to showcase the best small independent American films, almost 40 years later, the celluloid celebration also includes the some of best new international films as well.
Sundance Film Festival
Most celebrated film festival in North America
It’s the single most celebrated film festival in North America, beloved as much by serious film devotees as by wide-eyed fans of Hollywood superstars, like legendary actor and director Robert Redford, who founded the festival at his Sundance Resort in 1978. And each year close to 50,000 film-lovers flock to this exciting annual winter event in and around Utah’s scenic Salt Lake City. And many of the world’s leading directors—from Quentin Tarantino and Michael Moore to Alfonso Arua (“Like water for chocolate”), and Mike Newell (“Little Miss Sunshine”) first gained fame when their films premiered at Sundance.
In the years just between 1985 and 2013 alone, roughly 20 million feet of 35mm film were screened at the Festival – enough film reels, that if rolled out, they would stretch from New York to Paris. Competition among directors to have their movies opened here is intense. For example, in 2012 more than 12,000 feature films, documentaries and shorts were submitted to the judges, but less than 200 were selected.
Why it’s famous, why it’s fun
While the Festival’s core draw is the chance to see a whole raft of exciting, cutting-edge new films, everything from costume dramas and comedies, to short animated films, to political and social documentaries, the sheer fun and funky atmosphere at Sundance is also a major magnet. Unlike other more staid movie fairs, Sundance Festival doesn’t have segregated red carpets and there’s no dudes in tuxedos. Here, everyone is warmly welcomed and everybody - from famous film stars and celebrated directors to regular ‘just us’ movie lovers - all attend screenings together. So there’s not just movie magic here, but awesome people-watching, too. Hey, is that Jack Nicholson eating nachos over there? Was that Matt Damon having a hot dog? Pssst… that’s Angelina sitting behind you!
And just as competition to have films premiered at the Festival is intense, so is the demand for tickets to see those films. The 2015 Sundance Film Festival—which runs from January 22nd through February 1—will be held at venues at four different local—at the Sundance Resort, in Salt Lake City, Park City, and Ogden–all within a short drive of each other.
Best way to avoid disappointment movie fans should register online (www.sundance.org/festival/tickets) as soon as possible, to secure tickets to those films they most want to see. For serious film buffs, the probably the best plan is to purchase Festival Passes which give you priority access to screenings without having to pre-select tickets in advance. You just show up at the screening of your choice 30 minutes prior to the published start time, and you’re in!
But festival goers need to be aware the each of the venues were the various screenings will take place—Sundance Report, Ogden, Park City, and Salt Lake City itself—are separated by short drives of from half an hour, to more than an hour, make certain that you select screening tickets in the city where you will spend most of your time at the Festival.
Getting there & Getting Around
Nearly a dozen airlines including Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, United and US Airways serve Salt Lake City International Airport, providing air links to 90 US cities, and international flights from Mexico and Canada. Salt Lake City is also served by Amtrak’s (www.amtrak.com/home) celebrated California Zephyr, which can bring you in stylist comfort from Chicago and San Francisco.
Salt Lake City, the easiest way to get to Park City is via one of the many shuttle bus companies which operate services out of the airport.
Super scenic Utah!
When not enjoying festival itself, take time to check out the many cool things to see and do in this ruggedly scenic part of Utah, which is a highly popular Ricky Mountain destination in its own right. Shuttle bus service is available from SLC Airport to Park City, as well as other shuttle companies with transport to Ogden and the Sundance Resort.
Salt Lake City
Most festival goers will arrive at Utah’s capital, Salt Lake City which has a host of wholly unique must-see attractions, the most famous being the Great Salt Lake itself, just 20 minutes’ drive from the city. Spanning an awesome 20,000 square miles, it’s the largest lake in the United States outside the Great Lakes. What makes it special, of course, is its super-high salt levels, which are several times higher than sea water. This makes the water so buoyant that in summer you can float effortlessly on the surface. In winter, a visit to Antelope Island brings you close up views of the lake’s massive bird colony.
Salt Lake City’s other exclusive attraction is the opportunity to hear the angelic voices of the world famous 360-member Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Choir rehearsals, which take place on Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings, are usually free and open to the public. For more information, check out: www.mormontabernaclechoir.org/events.
For aircraft buffs, Ogden’s massive (30 acre) Hill Aerospace Museum provides close-up views of 80 different military aircraft, including such beloved World War II war birds as the B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-29 Super Fortress. There’s also historic helicopters from the Vietnam era, including the Jolly Green Giant and Choctaw. Open daily, admission is free. www.city-data.com/articles/Hill-Aerospace-Museum-Ogden-Utah.html.
And if you have ever wondered what it’s like to fly yourself - but were afraid of heights, then check out Ogden’s amazing IFLY indoor skydiving centre. This giant vertical wind-tunnel shoots a steady powerful flow of wall to wall air which recreates the feeling of flying, but is totally safe. Trained instructors show you how to suit up for the fun and anyone over age three can do it. Open Monday through Saturday, 11am till 9pm. D etails: http://iflyutah.com/index.php.
For families, Ogden’s full-sized Eccles Dinosaur Park is both fun and educational, with many totally touchable exhibits and real fossil finds from Utah, and around the world.
Park City is a world-class ski destination, 30 minutes’ drive from Salt Lake International Airport that boasts four different ski resorts, including Robert Redford’s celebrated Sundance Resort, where the festival began and where a number of 2015 premiers take place.