Sundance scene: lights, cameras and action along Main Street
Ryan Summerlin January 22, 2014
There were lights, there were cameras and there was action along Main Street during the opening days of the Sundance Film Festival.
Long the buzzing center of festival week, Main Street over the weekend and into the workweek was jammed with people and traffic. Under sunny skies, crowds descended on Main Street from the morning until the late-night hours to watch movies, party and gawk at celebrities.
At some points there were shoulder-to-shoulder crowds on the sidewalks as people made their way between the year-round shops, restaurants and nightclubs and the Sundance-only corporate setups along the street. People stopped into the corporate locations to grab a sample bite or learn about the latest technology during the hours they were open to the public. There were invitation-only parties or events in the setups at other times.
CNN Films attracted a large crowd to the Claim Jumper building for one of the parties, held on Sunday. The crowd dined and danced to a deejay’s music in the historic building that has only recently become a Sundance hotspot. City Hall sent a team to the party to make sure the event was safe.
The Park City Police Department and the Building Department have conducted a series of checks along Main Street, stopping into nightclubs and the temporary setups to ensure they are not violating occupancy restrictions. Police Chief Wade Carpenter, who also serves as the fire marshal, said some people were ordered out of a few spaces based on the occupancy limits.
Main Street on Monday remained busy. Traffic flaggers were at key intersections stopping drivers to allow pedestrians to cross the street. Police officers were spotted along the street as well.
At just before 5 p.m. on Monday, in a scene that repeats itself each year during Sundance, a crowd gathered on lower Main Street as word circulated that a star was nearby. People lined the sidewalks and the pedestrian bridge that spans the street in anticipation.
It was William H Macy, the actor who directed the film selected for Sundance’s closing night. Macy emerged, stopping to greet the fans before leaving. The police and private security guards were at the scene.
A little bit earlier in the afternoon, a crowd lined the Main Street sidewalk toward the top of the street waiting to get into one of the temporary setups. A sport utility vehicle drove slowly by with a man sitting on the hood as a few people appeared to snap a photo of the man.
Over the weekend, the crowds enjoyed the nice weather on Main Street. Television-news crews were seen alongside people shooting footage for other sorts of projects. A truck passed by promoting coal as a power source. Many restaurants were either rented out or packed. One restaurant posted a sign indicating it was "fully committed with reservations this evening."
The traffic on and around Main Street was at a standstill at many points as personal vehicles, taxis and trucks heading toward the street competed for space. Some drivers found an alternate route, using neighborhood streets like Woodside Avenue and Norfolk Avenue to bypass the traffic along lower Park Avenue. A line of those cars was seen on 8th Street heading toward Park Avenue at some points.
One of the sought-after events on Saturday celebrated a Sundance documentary about gay marriage, "The Case Against 8," which details the drive to overturn a ban on same-sex marriage in California. Held at Wahso Asian Grill, the event featured a ceremonial wedding cake inside and equality flags flying outside.
In an interview at the Saturday event, the filmmakers spoke about the documentary and the timing just weeks after a judge allowed same-sex marriages in Utah before they were later stopped when the Supreme Court granted Utah’s request that they be halted to allow the state to challenge the federal judge’s ruling.
Ryan White, one of the directors and producers of the documentary, said people were surprised when California voters passed the proposition against same-sex marriage since they considered that state to be liberal. He also addressed the Utah case.
"I think it’s sort of bittersweet right now what’s going on in Utah. Like, we’re very excited to premiere the film here, we’re very excited that 1,300 gay couples got married. But it’s also quite sad that that’s been stopped," he said.