Editorial: Behind-the-scenes stars are secret to Sundance success
January 24, 2018
The first half of the Sundance Film Festival went off without any unexpected snags.
And it's not because of pure luck that the festival's opening days, annually one of the most hectic stretches of the year in Park City, avoided playing out like a big-budget disaster flick. It was due to the tireless efforts of hundreds of people whose names won't be spelled out in the marquee at the Egyptian Theatre or listed in the end credits of any of the films screening here.
Behind the scenes, they played critical roles as the first week of the festival unfolded, and their efforts are deserving of acclaim from festival-goers and Parkites alike.
Dozens of police officers, for instance, directed traffic on the packed roads, helped hundreds of people get to and from the Respect Rally on Saturday morning and ensured the revelry throughout the weekend never got out of hand. Likewise, devoted Park City and Summit County public works staffers were out in force, clearing the roads throughout a significant snowstorm so festival attendees, skiers and residents could safely reach their destinations (after making their way through the congestion that is a mainstay this time of year).
Sundance volunteers, easily identifiable in their blue jackets, distributed tickets and manned merchandise shops, shepherded thousands of festival-goers into screenings throughout Park City, helped out-of-towners navigate an unfamiliar bus system and, in general, ensured people actually got to see the films that are the reason for all the hubbub in the first place.
Then there are the folks whose efforts are even less visible to the crowds, but no less critical to the success of Sundance. They include people like staffers at the Summit County Health Department, which is tasked with ensuring the restaurants and catering services feeding thousands of people during the festival are meeting food safety regulations. It's a service most Sundance attendees likely have never even thought about, but it's hard to imagine anything wrecking the good time quicker than these two words: foodborne illness.
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The list of vital contributors goes on and includes restaurant employees, hotel workers, bus drivers and scores of others.
Without their hard work, Sundance could never be what it is. None of them are earning the recognition of an A-list actor for their work, nor do they ask for a red carpet to be rolled out in their honor. But anyone who values the festival, with its massive financial impact on Park City and cultural influence on our town, owes them a debt of thanks.
Of course, you just might have to wait a few more days to give it to them. For now, they'll be far too busy making sure the rest of Sundance is a success.