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If you’ve never been to Sundance Film Festival, this is the year to start

By Ben Hansen
Special to the Hard News Café

PARK CITY–Every January starts out with a bang for Utah. No, not the banging of pots and pans once the clock strikes twelve on Jan. 1, but more the proverbial bang that is called Sundance – the juggernaut brainchild of Robert Redford, which seems to grow every year.

This year, the festival is starting a week later, but to good cause. The festival has spread to offer a satellite film in different locations nationally, and the quality and talent in the films this year seems to be exceptional. With a massive list of A list stars such as Kristen Stewart, Tommy Lee Jones, Kiefer Sutherland, Natalie Portman, Rainn Wilson, and Kevin Costner starring in movies this year, an ASCAP Music Café lineup including Leann Rhimes and The Fray, it would be an understatement to say that this is the year you may have to come to Sundance!

If you enjoy a good party, they will be everywhere. Many, as usual, are by invite only. Some, like the concerts at the ASCAP Music Café, are free if you have a festival credential (which was provided for free for those who purchased a ticket package in advance). For all of you aspiring Art Majors who are looking for something to do, the Gen Art parties, hailed to be the best at Sundance, are accessible if you have purchased a producer level membership to Gen Art.

For those who don’t have the option of memberships, credentials, or pre-purchased tickets, there are still lots of options available to you. Sundance encourages students to take part in the festivities. Screenings at the Peery Egyptian Theater in Ogden or the Sundance Resort Screening Room in Sundance are available to students at a discount during the advance sales phase of ticket sales, and are available a the box office. Beginning Jan. 18, Park City and Salt Lake residents who were unable to register for advance tickets can still purchase tickets online at www.sundance.org or by dropping by one of the box office locations.

As usual, there is always the option of using the waitlist to purchase movie tickets. For those who are new to the festival, a waitlist is started two hours before a screening starts, and numbers are distributed to the patrons in line. Often people do arrive before the two hour window begins, so don’t be afraid to get there early. Thirty minutes before the start time, any seats remaining in the theater are sold to individuals on the waitlist. Although this doesn’t guarantee your admission into a film, this option works more often than not, and would give you a shot at getting into one of the hot, sold-out movies.

For those who are budget-minded, there are also free Best of Fest tickets, free daily activities at Sponsor Tents in Park City, and art installations at the Park City Fresh Market and New Frontier on Main, which are open to the public. These are great ways for people to experience the energy of the festival without spending more than the cost of gas to get to Park City.

With options aplenty for everyone, this is the year to start your pilgrimage to the festival. Make sure you plan ahead to make the most of every day you will be at the festival – time can slip away from you very quickly. Buy your tickets early before they sell out. And bring a camera to any event in Park City – your chances of running into someone famous are pretty high, especially if you attend the first screening of any premier during the opening weekend in Park City.

If all else fails, keep checking back here until the end of the month, as articles taking you into the center of the action will be posted continually throughout the festival.

You can smell Sundance in the air. It must be a New Year!

NW