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Sundancing through opening weekend

January 27th, 2011 Posted in Arts and Life

By Ben Hansen
Special to Hard News Cafe

PARK CITY–The Sundance Film Festival is upon us, and opening weekend was far improved over last year. Here are some of the highlights:

First and foremost, the opening weekend of films seems to continually be the best. Directors and cast are often present, and the opportunity to be part of a screening with the actors has great appeal to most filmgoers. Some of the actors who were present at films this weekend included Elijah Wood, Liv Tyler, Paul Rudd, and Susan Sarandon.

As usual, press conferences occurred in abundance for the films at the festival. There were a couple of special conferences this year, as two of the most influential musical artists for their genres, 50 Cent and Slash, each announced that they have started their own motion picture companies (Cheetah Vision Films and Slasher Films).

Rumors of potential concerts swirled throughout the festival. Events like the Snoop Dog/Lil’John concert at Harry O’s and the Third Eye Blind and Fuel concerts at the House of Blues drew large crowds, while the invite-only concerts performed by One Republic and Carole King at the House of Hype caused many to wait outside the venues in hopes of being able to get in.

Gifting suites returned for celebrities, film-makers, and members of the media. The House of Swagg proved to again be the cream of the crop for the festival, with Crocs, Under Armour, and Sorrell all displaying forthcoming product. The Fred Segal Salon once again lived up to its namesake and offered those lucky enough to enter an experience that made everyone feel like the center of attention.

Nintendo had a presence at the festival again this year, this time staging a demo station directly on Main Street to show off their 3DS system, which is set for release in March. This phenomenal system will revolutionize the hand-held gaming system industry once again, with two built in cameras, downloadable content, and a price-point that makes accessing 3D technology affordable for those yet to dabble in that division of technology.

The AFC/NFC championship games drew a large crowd to anywhere a TV was viewable, with several venues holding parties for the games. The ESPN party at Tao was again the place to be, with TVs viewable in every direction and lots of space to sit and view the game. Although the professional athlete attendance was not as prominent as in years past, the change of venue to Tao made for a very relaxed and enjoyable party.

All festival credential holders (anyone who bought a ticket package) had the opportunity to attend the opening weekend afternoon concerts at the ASCAP Music Café for free. Some of the best shows provided in the free lineup included Danko Jones, K’NAAN, and Guster.

Free experiences abounded for the general public, with the Brita Filter for Good station offering free Nalgene bottles for those willing to take the pledge to reduce bottled water waste. Honda also presented a “Bringing the Power of Dreams” exhibit which displayed the world’s most advanced humanoid robot, designed to someday assist people in their homes.

Once again, Sundance has proven that they can cater to a very diverse audience. There truly is something for everyone. With several days of movies and events still to go, don’t miss your chance to come be part of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival experience.

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