Sundance: The Story is Utah
For Sundance audiences and filmmakers, the Story is Utah, one with many visions and interpretations and where revolutions are encouraged.
“Art is either plagiarism or revolution,” declared Paul Gauguin. If so, then few would debate where the Sundance Film Festival and most of its entries would land. Independence — Indie movies, for goodness sake — are synonymous with the Fest, the annual event where thousands take over Utah theaters, streets and my favorite restaurants in Park City and Salt Lake City each January. Yes, January! Red carpets are replaced with snow melt on the sidewalks. Celebrities don down coats and hiking boots instead of Valentino dresses and sling-back pumps. It’s the premier film event not limited to Hollywood-types; normal Joes and Janes can pick up $20 same-day tickets, sit wherever and find themselves trading reviews with a budding or established film editor, including, the one who worked on the film you’re about to watch. Power to the people!
The films, a term collectively used to describe the ever-evolving forms of visual media showcased, are the expressions of love, hate, want, need, beauty, pain, destruction and creation of their writers, producers, directors, actors and all others committed to bringing their art to these enthusiastic audiences. With this in mind, it is no surprise that founder, Robert Redford, chose Utah as the Festival’s physical and spiritual home, a place that attracts explorers and adrenaline junkies, that is both cosmopolitan and ancient, grounded and revolutionary.
This is a story about the Sundance Film Festival and why filmmakers and audiences come here but, as cinema’s famed investigative reporter and philosopher, Irwin M. “Fletch” Fletcher, pronounced before getting out of Los Angeles to find the answer to his mystery, “The story is Utah.”