What we saw on Main Street during the first Saturday of Sundance
Venturing out onto Main Street on the first Saturday of the Sundance Film Festival can be as exciting as viewing one of the film screenings. Onlookers had a visual feast of people-watching, whether checking out folks dressed in the bougiest mountain attire or trying to determine if the person walking by is actually famous. (“I swear I’ve seen him before,” said one passerby.)
Paparazzi wandered up and down Main Street and sprinted to get ahead of celebrities and their crews. One photographer spoke in hushed tones with a bouncer to find out who exactly was in the building and when he could expect them to exit.
There was plenty of action even for those who didn’t have a coveted Sundance credential. Official festival venues such as the Acura Festival Village, the Lyft Lounge, Stella’s Film Lounge and Canada Goose Basecamp were open to the public and offered giveaways, wifi and complimentary coffee or beer. The Canon Creative Studio had space for visitors to learn more about the equipment filmmakers use to create their projects, with over 25 percent of all Sundance movies being made using Canon equipment.
The bulk of the pandemonium occurred between 7th Street and Heber Avenue, near The Hollywood Reporter and the DirecTV lodges. A-list celebrities passed in and out of those buildings for most of the day, leading the crowds to gather between the two buildings on the east side of Main Street.
Rachel Parry, of Murray, and Julie Caron, of Springville, were there for the long haul. They planned to stay outside until 9 p.m. hoping to catch glimpses of their favorite stars.
“For us, we obviously love (to see) the celebrities but also love the people and the culture that comes in,” Parry said. “People watching is super fun and out of ordinary. Today, Peter Sarsgaard was the biggest name we saw. It’s fun for us.”
Some onlookers were seasoned veterans. Lisa Herrera, who goes by the nickname “Sundance Lisa,” uses the festival as part of her personal branding and documents her interactions on her social media.
The mass of people eager to see someone they know can sometimes cause hysteria. As people were waiting to see Zac Efron leave The Hollywood Reporter, half of the crowd of about 100 people sprinted east toward the Marriott Vacation Club, supposedly because someone saw Ray Romano. No one knew for certain.
Efron did eventually emerge from the building, but through a different exit than expected. The amalgamated crowd spilled onto Main Street to grab a selfie with or autograph from the film star as he entered his car and was whisked away in a matter of seconds, leaving only a lucky few having been able to interact with him.
For some on Main Street, the hubbub was an opportunity to gain some last-minute notoriety for their projects. Movie billboards along the street provide space for filmmakers to advertise their films and attract audiences. Pekka Kumpulainen and Pekka Aikio taped a poster for their short film, “Birds in the Earth,” amid the dozens of others that plaster the space.
“This makes up the core team of the film”, explains Kumpulainen, the music editor for the film, pointing at the credits line on the poster. Even for a film selected for Sundance, everyone on the team pitches in to help promote it.
On being selected to Sundance, he said, “It felt quite alright. Amazing, really. It was quite a surprise because basically it’s produced in our homes in northern Finland.” Kumpulainen explains that he produced the music at his own house with the help of Aikio, who was the sound designer.
“Even the dogs were celebrating the reemergence of the sun.”