The streets of Park City are already bustling with critics, corporations, patrons, over 1,800 scarlet and grey jacketed theater volunteers, and filmmakers for Sundance 2015. The 31st anniversary of the festival is taking on the hoards of theatergoers with innovative technology that will include a second year of using an electronic waitlist to check into a film up to 2 hours before a showing and cumulative updates from Twitter that will calculate what the most talked about films of the festival currently are. There will be a retrospective on the film Paris is Burning– which premiered here 24 years ago. Independent films here that are looking for distribution may go on to worldwide accolades like Whiplash or Beasts of the Southern Wild while others may simply begin a limited public reception on the festival circuit and then go straight to a streaming service if they’re lucky. A few pass holders and members of the press will have the privilege of seeing a panel between Robert Redford and George Lucas later in the week. Far more exciting is a “Serious Ladies” panel consisting of Kristin Wiig, Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham and Jenji Kohan that will be moderated by New Yorker critic Emily Nussbaum.
This will be my 4th year covering Sundance for Sound On Sight and 5th year working for the festival. The theater hours are long (over 100 in 10 days) but afford an intimate look at the creative personalities brought together by the festival. There is also a definite bond that forms between many of the volunteers as they make sure the show will go on without a hitch. For all the grumbling you hear about how the festival long ago sold out, actually working within a theater gives one perspective on the spectacle. There are still people who come from nothing who have everything to gain from such a platform. Yes, there are the red carpet press lines and celebrities who go just to be seen or the people who like to gawk. Upon closer inspection there are many others in attendance who are just trying to get their voices heard above the raucous frenzy or are carefully listening to the content of what artists have to say instead of just being preoccupied with who they may be.
Opening night kicks off with the documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? This is to be followed by a short concert by singer John Legend in tribute to the singer and Civil Rights activist Nina Simone who was lovingly called “The High Priestess of Soul.” The second movie at the Eccles will be The Bronze- a dark comedy that looks as though it follows a woman with a crazed determination to succeed by any means necessary.
Below you can read Sound on Sight’s Most Anticipated films of the festival: