Amy Roberts: Rubbing elbows and shrugging shoulders with Sundance
For the most part, I tend to take sides. It makes sense for an opinion writer to have an opinion. It would be rather difficult to come up with 700 words every week on a subject I’m completely agnostic about. It’s sort of a requirement of the job to have some level of partiality; to be attached to a particular outcome.
This habit of mine tends to flow well beyond my little corner in this paper. If a friend asks where we should meet for dinner, it is rare for me to say, “I don’t care, you pick.” Because I do care. As an aspiring vegan, a steakhouse isn’t going to be at the top of my list. And sometimes I crave Indian food over Italian.
I’m often the one called to cast the deciding vote amongst my friends and family. I’ve broken ties on everything from paint colors, to pet names, to which dress is better suited for a particular event. Not because I necessarily have the best taste, but because I will definitely have a preference. Essentially, I’m either hot or cold. There is very little lukewarm with me.
Perhaps that’s why I find it remarkable that I’ve suddenly found myself so indifferent towards something as big as the Sundance Film Festival. Like most locals, I should pick a side. I should either love it or hate it. I should be able to rattle off the merits of the revenue it generates or complain about the traffic and the crowds. Instead, I just shrug my shoulders in nonchalance.
For many, many years I covered the festival for an entertainment television show. There were red carpet interviews, sit downs with celebrities, and “you’re on the list” parties I would have never had access to but for that job. No matter how many people told me it was cool, to me, it was work. Sure, it’s probably cooler than being a mortgage loan officer, but ultimately, it’s still a way to earn a paycheck.
For the first time in a long time, this year I chose to earn my Sundance income in a different way — by renting out some spare rooms in my house to volunteers and skedaddling off to the Caribbean. Perhaps that was my way of taking a side: choosing sun and sand over snow and stars. Though the decision to do this wasn’t rooted in a loyalty to, or distaste for, the festival. It was simply timing. A friend of mine who lives in Kenya had plans to be in New York for an event and had a week to kill afterwards. Being from Kenya, he wasn’t too keen on spending excess time in New York in January, so I suggested we meet up somewhere warm. Then we found cheap flights and it all came together, right during Sundance. I told the media company I normally freelance for that I’d be taking this year off, found them a replacement, and packed the sunscreen.
I arrived back home on Sunday night, assuming I had missed most of the action (along with some killer powder days, I hear). Typically, the chaos and the crowds are contained to the festival’s first weekend. Or so I thought. My flight back was packed with people flying in on Sunday evening to attend Sundance. I headed to the grocery store that evening and briefly wondered if we were expecting a hurricane. The overflowing carts, empty shelves, and painfully long lines surprised me. I figured the rush had passed, but everyone in that store was wearing inappropriate footwear and shouting on a cell phone about premieres.
Even on Monday, as I headed to my office, I was taken aback by the number of pedestrians playing Frogger on Kearns Boulevard. That’s normally Friday and Saturday stuff.
Maybe I have been in the eye of the hurricane for so long, working the first Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Sundance, that anything outside of it had always seemed calm in comparison. And ironically, I had to travel to the land of real hurricanes to realize just how powerful the storm surges can be.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
“Even the dogs were celebrating the reemergence of the sun.”