Park City plays critical role in nurturing independent filmmaking
The Park Record editorial, Jan. 18-20 2017
This week, Park City residents may feel somewhat overrun by the film industry — but they should be proud of the work that is being done here.
The Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals are vital incubators for films that incorporate bold artistic expression, social activism and new technology. And the organizers say they couldn’t do it without Park City’s help.
That support comes from every department in the city, from business owners and from regular citizens whose lives, in many ways, are disrupted by the festivals’ growing slate of activities and immense popularity.
But, it is worth it. Despite the hard work and inconveniences, mostly packed into the first four days, being the focus of global attention generates a sense of civic pride.
Once again, the films being screened this year both embrace and critique the human condition. Many examine the most relevant issues of the day — from justice reform and climate change to freedom of speech. Others test our capacity for compassion and explore our evolving relationship with technology. In fact, many filmmakers told us they have been re-editing their films to reflect the latest upheavals of our political landscape.
Unfortunately, though, many Parkites won’t see what’s on the screens. Tickets, these days, are hard to come by. Instead they will be looking through their windshields at lots of traffic and no parking. They may not be so quick to praise the heroic documentarians shedding light on humanitarian shortfalls or the breakthrough performances of up and coming actors. We understand. So does the city and so do the festival organizers, and they are trying to mitigate the impacts.
This year the city is offering free and frequent bus service between the big Richardson Flats satellite parking lot on S.R. 248 and the Eccles Center. There is also a new transit center at Kimball Junction, where people can grab rides into the city without worrying about finding a place to park.
As to those hard-to-score tickets, Sundance has devised several ways to ensure locals get special treatment. This year, online ticket sales opened to Utah residents several days ahead of the general public. The festival has also established a tradition of giving away tickets for a Tuesday screening during the festival and offers free post festival screenings of many winning films.
Best of all, thanks to new technology including many video-on-demand platforms like Amazon, Netflix, HBO and YouTube, more independent films than ever will soon be available on your own screen at home.
So open your senses, hop on a bus and take pride in being a Parkite whose town hosts a couple of the finest film festivals in the world.
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Our view: As Park City and the rest of Utah continue to attract more and more visitors from around the world each winter, the effects on our community will continue to grow.