Sundance 2015: where are the protesters?
January 30, 2015
One of the scenes during the Sundance Film Festival often involves demonstrators in Park City.
As the festival entered its final weekend of the 2015 edition, though, there had not been a notable demonstration. The Park City Police Department, which has monitored an eclectic mix of demonstrations during Sundance over the years, said it was not aware of any protests this year.
Rick Ryan, a police captain involved in crafting the department’s Sundance security plans, said the Police Department had not been notified of one planned during the closing weekend, either. The closing weekend is usually far less busy than the opening days of the festival.
"It’s one less issue we have to pay attention to," Ryan said, acknowledging that demonstrations in the past have not required significant police resources.
Ryan said a group notified the Park City Legal Department prior to the festival a demonstration was planned. Ryan was not sure what cause the group planned to promote. He said he was not aware of the group holding a demonstration.
Demonstrators usually notify the Legal Department prior to holding an event, Ryan said. The Police Department requires demonstrators not obstruct sidewalks or block vehicle traffic, he said.
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There is a long tradition of demonstrators arriving in Park City during Sundance. The festival offers a concentration of film-goers, celebrities, activists and reporters. The demonstrators see Sundance as an opportunity for widespread media coverage and, perhaps, a rare opportunity to enlist a celebrity to promote the cause.
"Sundance, national media, local media, lots of visitors," Ryan said about demonstrators’ interest in the festival, calling the festival an opportunity for protesters.
The demonstrations most often seem to be staged along Main Street, but they have also occurred outside Sundance screenings when an individual film is the target.
Some of the causes have included the anti-war movement and animal rights. They usually do not draw more than a few dozen people. There have been daring demonstrations like a 2012 protest that saw members of the Occupy Wall Street movement storm into the lobby of a Park City bank and amusing ones, such as a 2009 gathering in support of animal rights that involved a person in a gorilla suit tossing a banana peel.
The animal rights activists have also demonstrated outside Main Street fur sellers. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said on Thursday no demonstrations are planned in park City during the final weekend of Sundance.
The reaction is usually mixed as some people join the demonstration and others pass by with amusement. Demonstrators from the political left are far more prevalent than conservatives ones during Sundance.
"I don’t have an explanation," Ryan said about the lack of demonstrations in 2015.