Sundance giveaway starts Saturday |

Sundance giveaway starts Saturday

Greg Marshall, Of the Record staff

"Tell them horses are stampeding through the server," shouted ticketing sales director Linda Pfafflin at 5 p.m. Wednesday, standing behind a bank of employees as they fielded phone calls at Sundance Film Festival’s ticketing headquarters. Moments before, what Pfafflin described as a "computer attack" from a would-be hacker slowed the Sundance server and temporarily halted online ticket sales for festival-goers across the country.

Technicians fixed the problem within about an hour and sales resumed, but not before a few hundred patrons wondered why they weren’t getting tickets.

Had they missed their chance?

So far this year, Sundance’s ticket sales have bucked the economic downturn. Ticket sales for locals have buoyed 20 percent from last year, Pfafflin said, and perhaps more surprisingly, national ticket sales are also up from last year.

Film lovers will line up again Saturday, Jan. 10 and Sunday, Jan. 11, for free Best of Fest tickets. A tradition at Sundance, Best of Fest gives locals the chance to see some of the most engrossing documentaries, features and shorts from Sundance. The films showcased, selected from jury and audience award winners, won’t be announced until the second week of the festival. Last year, "Trouble the Water," a documentary about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the immigration story "Frozen River" were among the films shown.

Sundance officials will give away about 3,000 tickets to the Eccles Center screenings Jan. 26 at 6 and 9 p.m. Only residents of Summit and Wasatch Counties will be eligible to snag tickets for the Park City shows, and they have to present state-issued identification or proof of address, such as a utility bill, at the Gateway Box Office before taking the tickets home.

Residents are eligible for two tickets per film, not the usual four. "We really do want people from Wasatch and Summit County," Pfafflin reiterated. "We’re strict because we want to give back to the community."

Separate Best of Fest screenings at the Rose Wagner Theater in Salt Lake City, the Egyptian Theater in Ogden and the Sundance Resort promise people from different parts of the Salt Lake Valley a chance to see the winning films.

The Gateway Box Office is open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Info Box:

Just the facts:

What: Best of Fest tickets released

Where: Gateway Office Business Center, 136 Heber Ave.

When: Tickets will be distributed Jan. 10 and 11. The box office opens at 10 a.m. Saturday and noon on Sunday. Films screen in Park City at the Eccles Center Jan. 26.

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