The annual Sundance Film Festival is an easy solution for BYU students wishing to escape the Provo bubble for a few hours.
The Sundance Film Festival, which began on Jan. 17 and ends Jan. 26, is considered the most premier film festival for both domestic and international independent films. While the festival is often associated with posh celebrities and paparazzi, some BYU students have found it a great opportunity to experience different cultures and viewpoints.
Lauren Clough, who graduated from BYU in 2009 with a degree in physiology and developmental biology, volunteered with a friend at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. She got a taste of Park City life, viewing premieres of popular independent films, such as “500 Days of Summer,” and attending star-studded parties. She said she strongly recommends volunteering.
“We got to meet friends from all over the world,” Clough said. “It was a great experience to see art at its finest and see people living out their dreams.”
Tickets for screenings often sell out well before the festival begins, but dedicated fans can arrive at screenings a couple hours early to get in line for waitlist tickets. Amy Kersey, the communications manager at Park City’s Visitor’s Bureau, recommends arriving two hours early for waitlist tickets, which will be distributed based on availability.
“Be adventurous with last-minute film choices,” Kersey said in an email. “Last year’s Grand Jury Prize winner ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ had 200 empty seats at its first screening.”
Kenji Tsukamoto, a 2011 graduate of BYU’s film department, is no stranger to the Sundance Film Festival. After attending the festival six times, he says he believes it to be a very accessible cultural experience for BYU students.
“You get to see films that have more heart than most films,” Tsukamoto said. “People have sacrificed a lot of blood, sweat, tears and time to make films that they are passionate about.”
While people are often able to get tickets to sold-out screenings by getting on a waitlist, Tsukamoto says going to Park City during the festival is a worthwhile experience even if you don’t have tickets.
“You can just go, hang out, and experience it,” Tsukamoto said. “There are displays, and people often go to look for celebrities. There is definitely never a time I’ve been up to Park City and not seen a celebrity.”
Tsukamoto also says he encourages those attending the festival to go in with an open mind.
“At BYU we focus so much on ‘enter to learn, go forth to serve,’ but we don’t take enough time to learn about the communities that we will end up serving,” Tskuamoto said. “You have to be open because things will be different from they are here, but it’s a great way to learn.”
For more information on the festival, volunteering opportunities and tickets, visit sundance.org.