Miller and Grose agree, Sundance Film Fest goes smooth
Sunday afternoon there were trucks lined-up, up and down Main Street, packing up the temporary stores that made their homes in Old Town for the film festivals. By Monday afternoon, almost all of the trucks were gone and Park City had returned to its normal, pre-festival state.
Down in Salt Lake City, the Sundance Institute staff was just starting to crunch the numbers to see how many people the festival drew and how much money they spent. But Sundance Institute Managing Director Jill Miller did offer the organization’s impression of the event.
"I think we were really pleased with the festival this year," she said. "I think this was one of our smoothest festivals ever."
Sundance aficionado and Summit County local Destiny Grose agreed.
"This is, like, the year of the good festival," she said. "The movies were pretty much good; the traffic was good; the parties were good."
In many cases, Grose added, the festival avoided the extremes.
Miller said the festival’s positive results came because of the work of the staff and the extensive planning done by both Park City Municipal and the institute, and she said that, considering the unfinished parking structure and the lack of Eccles parking, there was relatively little gridlock.
"People rode the shuttle; people used the park and ride," said Miller.
With some help from the public, she added, the festival went well.
"Really," she said, "I feel like much of it is due to the community’s effort."
Seeing a few more than 40 films, Grose said she thought, in general, the crowds were well behaved and respectful, and the locals were a bit more cheerful than last year. She even said she had, so far, avoided the usual post-festival illness.
While the institute is still tallying its total number of visitors, Miller said that, purely judging by the attendance at screenings, the festival continues to grow.
"As far as that goes, in our theatres it was consistent with our screenings last year, if not a bit stronger," said Miller.
She said that, in general, the screenings average about 75-percent full ahead of a screening, meaning that, on average, about 25-percent of a screening’s seats are available for day-of-screening ticket sales and the wait-list line.
Miller also noted the increased customer satisfaction with the locals’ ticket sales.
"This year, as you know, we kind of readdressed the way we offer locals tickets to the public, and we were really happy with that," she said.
Additionally, she noted, with the easier access to tickets, a greater number of people came to the ticket sale and bought tickets.
"We felt the new format was one that met the needs of the community," added Miller.
Grose credited the institute for the increased ticket availability and also for the spirit it created. Last year, with poor ticket availability for locals, she said many started the festival with a relatively negative attitude, but this year, she said, was different.
"The enthusiasm everybody had was much better," she said.
Among the changes to the festival, Miller noted the installation of risers in the Racquet Club theatre, which helped give the venue a more intimate feel, and the closing film.
"I know that created a really great energy around the second half of the week," said Miller.
She also noted that by adding a significant premiere to the traditionally quieter second half of the festival moving the regular, public, Main Street concert to match that screening, the institute was better able to spread out the impact of the festival crowd over a longer period of time.
That effort, she added, would continue.
"We’re really going to focus on the second half of the festival and continue to emphasize that," she said.
Then, because fewer film industry people are in town, the festival is more accessible to film fans, Miller noted.
Along the film fan lines, both Miller and Grose also shared a note of surprise.
"I was really surprised that the Grand Jury and the Audience prizes matched," said Grose.
"Quincea era" won both the Audience and Grand Jury Prize for dramatic filmmaking; and "God Grew Tired of Us" won the same awards for documentary filmmaking.
"The fact that we had both the dramatic and the documentary [films] win both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize was really interesting," said Miller. "That’s never happened before."
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Park City officials are expected to present information about upcoming work on the Treasure acreage designed to guard against a wildfire, as well as a series of other City Hall projects and programs, at an open house that is scheduled next week.