Herein my Sundance experience:
We left Atlanta on a warm January day; as I recall, it was somewhere in the 50s-60s. Hopped a plane to Denver, had a 4 hour layover (ugh) and then boarded another plane to Salt Lake City. Brrr. There was much napping and reading on the outbound journey. By the end of the layover, I'd finished the only reading material I'd brought with me, and was already kicking myself for not bringing another book as I'd contemplated during the packing phase. Hindsight blows goat chunks.
The temperature when we arrived in Salt Lake City was somewhere in the mid-30s. Something of a shock to my Southern-softened sensibilities. But hey, I was raised to be hardy Midwestern stock, right? *snort* We hopped a shuttle bus to Park City after some confusion (fosteronfilm had neither written down the name or number of the company we'd reserved tickets on and there are something like half a dozen shuttle services between Salt Lake and Park City).
We ran into Ian, one of our condo-mates and a film EFX guy I'd met at Dragon*Con, as we waited for the shuttle and got to know him better on the hour-long ride. The mountains were beautiful, their snowy peaks looking like big piles of sugar from a distance and turning jagged and rocky up close. Our condoplex was set at the base of a range of mountains and we had a lovely view as we shuttled to and from the festival venues. The full compliment of condo denizens: Devi and Agustin, director/writer and producer (they made "Teenage Bikini Vampire" and "Confederate Zombie Massacre"); Eric, technical and EFX guru (he always carries a projector, screen, and various electronic toys around with him wherever he goes), and his wife, Jodi (trailing spouse like me); and of course, the previously mentioned Ian, and fosteronfilm and me. Also popping in for a few days were Lenora from L.A. (actress, model, producer, and staff writer for Frontiers magazine) who knows absolutely everyone, Mark from the U.K. (editor of Naked magazine), and Michael-who-was-only-there-for-a-couple-d
Park City transportation is A-1. Sundance sets up free shuttle buses for the duration of the festival that come every 10-15 minutes or so, and take people to all the myriad venues as well as stopping at the major condo locales--including right in front of our complex. The town itself is charming and picturesque. The roads are narrow, reminding me of the ones in London, and Main street is chock full of little shops (including several ice cream parlors which made me go "huh") selling artsy nick knacks, boutique clothing, food, and a variety of "downtown"-esque consumables. The city goes to great lengths to be delightful. The houses are painted bright colors--yellows and blues and reds--with decorative trim. I saw a vivid purple dumpster, one of those industrial construction ones, with Robert Redford's head plastered on it. A purple garbage receptacle is a great idea. It looks festive rather than grungy. There were a lot of gingerbread awnings and elegant little sculptures and ornamental bird houses. Makes me want to paint the staid pillars in front of our house a bright turquoise instead of the white they are now. Maybe we will. That would undoubtedly give our Nazi Homeowners Association an aneurysm--which makes it worth it right there. I saw several fur shops which depressed me, but also several anti-fur protesters, which helped.
The Sundance crowd is a diverse and eclectic mix; countless accents, languages, and fashions were to be experienced in the space of a few blocks every day. And, of course, I saw a pair of obligatory Mormons in their missionary suit-tie ensembles. Didn't see any celebrities, though, alas.
It snowed almost every day we were there, which I was not at all happy about . . . until Saturday afternoon. The temperature had warmed slightly, and Matthew and I were walking to a shuttle stop. Big, fluffy white flakes floated out of the sky to speckle our hats, coats, and eyelashes, and they created a muffling softness over everything. One flew into my mouth, melting on my tongue, and in the face of such exquisite beauty, my normal "I hate snow!" sentiments whisked away, lost in white flurries. It takes a lot, but every now and again, I will grudgingly admit that sometimes snow can be nice. We passed a young male in a train of people of assorted ages--a couple families on vacation maybe?--who was carting around a snowball bigger than my head. I do wonder what his intentions with that ginormous snowball were, but I'll never know.
Our condoplex was located across the street from a large grocery store and we stocked up on foodstuffs. Our condo sported a fully stocked kitchen with all major appliances: microwave, refrigerator, oven, and dishwasher, as well as pots, pans, bake-ware, glasses, plates, utensils, and minor electronic devices like a mixer, popcorn popper, blender, and electric can opener. Agustin is an amazing chef. He made omelets or scrambled eggs for breakfast every morning, and his spaghetti sauce was incredible. I offered up homemade chocolate chip cookies as my culinary contribution. The condo also had a gas fireplace that I turned on at every opportunity. It's so decadent having a fire you can switch on. The place also had a complete entertainment system--DVD player, 5-point surround sound, TV, and CD player. The sleeping arrangements were almost-but-not-quite cramped--two bedrooms, one dayroom, a fold-out sleeper couch, and a dining room that got converted into another bedroom. It would have been perfect if they'd also had WiFi.
There were fewer guerrilla film festivals this year. Word was that Sundance was doing its best to crack down on those. I didn't see the roving film festival-in-a-truck that Matthew experienced last year. Actually, there were only three that I saw: Sundance (duh), Slamdance, and Tromadance--not counting our own party/film festival: Condodance. There was also a split in venues with many screenings in Salt Lake City. But without complimentary shuttle service between Park City and Salt Lake, I don't know how many people attended the Salt Lake ones. We certainly didn't.
Doing the ad hoc research on the Japanese Demon Hunter story that I wasn't able to in Utah. How did people get anything done without the Internet? Oh, yeah, they lived in libraries . . . which is what I used to do, come to think of it.
Club 100 For Writers
My friend xrew was at Sundance, too, but he spent most of his time as an official photographer. He spent a lot of time standing about in the cold, waiting for photo-ops. He got to have some fun, but even then he had his camera, just in case.