Ah, the Sundance Film Festival – a magical place high in the mountains of Utah where film lovers frolic in the snow and watch wonderful independent movies all day and night. It’s like a fantasy come true for any cinephile, except there’s a lot you don’t see when it comes to Sundance. There’s a darker, somewhat embarrassing and foul-smelling side to the country’s biggest film festival that I shall expose right … now!
The Parties: It was the opening night of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, and I had just attended a program featuring four shorts, one of which was a very sweet-yet-depressing robot love story directed by Spike Jonze. Like with some of the more high-profile films screening at Sundance, there was a party for it afterward.
Of course, not everyone can go to these parties – you’ve got to get on the list. If you’re lucky, you’ll be allowed to bring a “plus 1,” but most of the time you’re not. I was on the list for this party, but I wanted to bring a guest – and fellow writer – in with me. At the door, Guest List Girl (picture the cute, bitchy chick from high school with a clipboard in one hand and the rest of your evening in another) found my name just fine, but when I asked if I could bring my friend she called over another girl who, right in front of me, said, “Well, he’s not as important as so-and-so.”
That right there sums up the party scene at Sundance. It’s filled with pretty twenty-somethings who fly in from Los Angeles and New York and pretend to have something to do with film. Which parties you attend, and how fast you gain entrance to them, depends entirely on how important you are. I, obviously, was so unimportant that the girl had no problem saying it to my face, while letting the guy behind me bring seven friends in with him. If you’re in the mood to light your self-esteem on fire and watch it burn for one week straight, the Sundance Film Festival is definitely for you.
The Shuttles: In order to get around from theater to theater, the festival provides shuttles that usually get you to where you need to be on time. However, what Sundance doesn’t do is decide who gets to ride on these shuttles, so if you happen to be on a shuttle late at night there’s a good chance the partygoer who got to bring his seven friends is now sitting next to you and will vomit all over the place. And then you’ll have to sit there and soak it all in (literally) because your stop won’t be for another 20 minutes. Or you can walk … in five-degree weather, uphill and through the slushy snow. Your call …
Kristen Stewart Movies: Chances are Kristen Stewart will appear in more than one movie at Sundance where she’ll play a whore with massive daddy issues. Stay far, far away.
The Food: Burgers? Check. Bad Chinese buffet? Check. Crappy Mexican? Check. Overpriced sushi? Check. Spaghetti and meatballs for $32 on Main Street? Check. If you don’t gain 10 pounds and blow the next three paychecks doing so, there’s something wrong with you.
The Cell Phone Service: Oh, you want to use your cell phone at Sundance to make a call or perhaps check the ol’ email? Good luck – the service at this year’s fest was so bad (especially from AT&T), I literally found people crying on the side of the road when they couldn’t get through … as if some post-apocalyptic tragedy had knocked out service and all you could do was –gasp – physically talk to the person next to you instead of tweet at them.
Keep all of this a secret, though, because we definitely want future Sundance virgins to be astounded to find their lives totally suck for one week at next year’s festival … right?