Sundance stakes a Claim to historic Main Street building |

Sundance stakes a Claim to historic Main Street building

The Sundance Film Festival has staked a Claim on Main Street.

Festival organizers have secured temporary space in the Claim Jumper building, expanding Sundance’s presence on the street. The festival’s New Frontier setup will occupy part of the Claim Jumper, bringing unique films and installations to one of Main Street’s most prominent historic buildings.

The Claim Jumper has been vacant or largely vacant for years as plans for a redevelopment of the building are considered. It has been used on a temporary basis during Sundance for corporate rentals, including a high-profile one by Microsoft search engine Bing.

But the building’s status during Sundance will almost certainly increase in 2015 by housing New Frontier. Many festival-goers shuffle through the New Frontier section at least once as they seek another Sundance experience.

"New Frontier will present some of the most cutting edge virtual reality technology and art. We are thrilled that festival attendees walking Main Street will be able to experience this immersive technology," Tina Graham, the Sundance Institute’s associate director of festival operations, said in an email response to questions from The Park Record.

According to Graham, New Frontier will be located on the second and third floors of the Claim Jumper. She said the third floor will feature installations that "all have a strong virtual reality connection." The second floor, meanwhile, will also have New Frontier installations and what Sundance is calling a microcinema, where New Frontier entries will screen.

The New Frontier lineup includes an installation called "1979 Revolution Game," which, according to Sundance organizers, offers "an immersive ‘on the ground’ experience of the Iranian Revolution." One of the New Frontier films is called "Station to Station." It involves 61 one-minute films, Sundance organizers said in announcing the New Frontier lineup.

Chase Sapphire Preferred, an official Sundance sponsor, will occupy the first floor for panel discussions and other activities. Sundance itself will use the basement for events. The second and third floors will be open to the public from Jan. 22 until Jan. 31. Hours are from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Sundance crews anticipate moving into the Claim Jumper a week before the festival starts.

Graham said the Claim Jumper offers "safety, square footage, proximity to Main Street and the ability to set up high quality technical presentation."

"With the exception of our offices, we do not have permanent spaces here year round to host panels and screenings so we often have to shift venues and get creative with the activations we execute each January," she said. "Luckily we have an incredible venues and operations team that can look at a space and imagine the presentation, flow and its potential."

Sundance has moved New Frontier from space to space over the years. It has been located in Miners Hospital, the Gateway Center in Old Town and The Yard, as examples. In 2015, though, it will open on what is typically an already jammed Main Street. Official Sundance activities and many of the unofficial happenings occur along the street as large crowds of film-goers, celebrity gawkers and other revelers create a once-a-year scene on Main Street.

Sundance itself operates a screening room at the Egyptian Theatre, the Filmmaker Lodge in a rented building on Main Street and the Kimball Art Center is turned into the Sundance House. Official Sundance sponsors typically rent storefronts on Main Street. Other corporate interests, meanwhile also rent space on Main Street.

The Historic Park City Alliance, an organization that represents the interests of businesses on Main Street or just off the street, is pleased New Frontier will be located on Main Street. Alison Butz, the executive director of the group, said New Frontier draws crowds and she anticipates more film-goers will be on Main Street as a result of the Claim Jumper setup. She said New Frontier runs longer than the corporate setups on Main Street that are removed after the first weekend.

"It gives people another reason to go to Main Street during the festival and see what’s available," Butz said. "To have New Frontier with frontage on Main Street will be a big deal."