Sundance 2019: no Women’s March on Main, no Respect Rally in Park City
January 13, 2019
The opening Saturday of the Sundance Film Festival is expected to be jammed in Park City as crowds of film lovers, celebrity gawkers and industry figures descend on the town.
That Saturday has long seemed to be perhaps the busiest day of the festival. But the first Saturday of Sundance 2019, Jan. 26, will lack something that has made the last two festivals even more rollicking than they normally would have been: a major demonstration.
City Hall said it had not received an application by Friday morning for a demonstration like the ones over the past two film festivals. It seems almost certain there will be demonstrators pressing a variety of causes during Sundance, as there are every year during the festival, but a singular event that draws hundreds or thousands of people is apparently not planned. The Women's March on Main was held in 2017 while the Respect Rally followed the next year.
The large demonstrations require a permit from City Hall. An official said there have not been talks with anyone considering such an event. The festival opens in less than two weeks, making it unlikely a group could organize a major demonstration and then secure the necessary permit to hold the event.
The Woman's March on Main was especially notable. Held the day after President Trump's inauguration and alongside similar marches across the U.S., the Women's March on Main turned into the largest demonstration in Park City's modern era. It drew an estimated crowd of up to 9,000 marching down Main Street to a rally on Swede Alley. Everyday Parkites walked with the Sundance crowds, and celebrities like Charlize Theron added to the excitement of the marchers.
The 2018 event, called the Respect Rally, drew far fewer people than the Women's March on Main. Held at City Park, the crowd estimates ranged from 2,500 to 4,000. Jane Fonda highlighted the Respect Rally with others like attorney Gloria Allred also delivering remarks.
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Cindy Levine, a Park City-area resident who was the primary organizer of the Women's March on Main and one of the organizers of the Respect Rally, said the two events were "very successful." Both events focused on issues important to the political left.
"I think we did what we needed to do. We showed up," Levine said.
She said the people who participated in the demonstrations during Sundance are resisting in different fashions. Levine said the people interested in change also must ensure they vote.
"We've marched. We've protested. And now we're all taking action," Levine said.
The lack of a major demonstration during Sundance, particularly on a day of the opening weekend, is expected to relieve at least some of the pressure on Park City during the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Sundance is at its most crowded over the opening weekend with a heavy celebrity, industry and corporate presence on Main Street.
A demonstration like the Women's March on Main and, to a lesser degree, the Respect Rally requires a broad effort by City Hall as it readies for impacts to the bus system, parking and traffic. Law enforcement is also heavily involved in the planning for a major demonstration.
The opening weekend already stresses the traffic flow, parking and the bus system, and there were complaints during the Women's March on Main of terrible backups as demonstrators added to the traffic headed into Park City.
It is not known whether smaller-scale demonstrations are planned during Sundance. Some of those sorts of events may not be finalized until just before they are held. Sundance in the past has attracted an array of demonstrators pressing issues like animal rights, the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Occupy Wall Street movement.