Sundance Film Festival 2019

28 June 2020
4 min read

Every year, I've been trying to find an experience I've always wanted to have and cross it off the bucket list. For 2020, it was the Literature Festival, for 2019 it was going to Sundance. I've always been fascinated by films and in recent years have attended quite a few foreign film festivals (abroad and locally). A friend who had been before inspired me to take the plunge and go for the first time. I would highly recommend it, but I think I would want to go again in a few years (to see how things have changed).

While this entry if over a year late, I wanted to capture some of my thoughts of the experience from last year in Park City. This is combination of tips for anyone who'd like to go as well as some of my personal reflections on the entire trip.

Don't buy passes
It was a bit of a risk to go into the Film Festival not having bought any movie tickets, but we knew that there were a limited number released before each film. Using the Sundance Film Festival app, you could buy tickets on the spot ($20) through the eWaitlist. You show up with cash in hand at least half an hour before the film and they will fill up to the capacity for that venue. Out of the whole festival (I saw 9 films over 3.5 days), I paid less than $100 total! Since we went on the second weekend of the festival, a lot of festival go-ers that had passes were leaving and just giving away tickets! Also everyone was just very warm and friendly. You could tell that while the festival has grown commercialized over time, everyone is genuinely interested in the films and open to watching creativity on screen!

Staying in Salt Lake City (SLC)
We decided to stay in SLC at the recommendation of many friends that had gone before us. Infamously, Park City has no parking and due to it's small ski-town nature, has accomodation with prices through the roof. We budgeted Ubers / Lyfts into our plans, and also took a look at the schedule for movies in SLC (so we could head back early and still catch a movie). I'd highly recommend this because I personally thought the food in SLC was better as well (and easier to find).

Genres of movies
I went in thinking that every movie I had to watch would have to be an amazing great choice. Turns out, I pick a lot of dark shit. Great when you watch one a week, but not great when you're watching them back to back. I realized halfway through the festival that the heaviness of the movies was making me more upset and less likely to enjoy the rest of the movies in the weekend. I switched over to finding more lighthearted movies and shorts.

Space out your movies
Even though Park City is relatively small, it was hard to get around from venue to venue (plus the snow). While you may think you can watch 4 movies back to back in one day, it's pretty difficult to move from venue to venue and stand in lines for (potentially hours)… oh and feed yourself in between all of that.

Getting bought out
Sundance originally started for independent film makers to showcase their work. However it was incredible to not only see tech companies sponsoring many of the screenings, but then buying the credits afterward. Every movie I saw (by the last showing of it since we went during the second weekend), was bought out by Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or some other large video-streaming platform. While this means that the creators get a payout, it feels like it goes against the essence and spirit of the festival.

They also had quite a few exhibits (that I didn't try but friends did) and they said they were SXSW level.

If you're looking to attend in the future, there's also a whole host of articles that might be able to provide more guidance and detail:



Stephen Follows

Visit Park City


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