Behind the festival scene: a well-oiled machine |

Behind the festival scene: a well-oiled machine

The Park Record Editorial, Jan. 15-17, 2014

While Sundance Film Festival participants enjoy a dazzling array of premieres and parties over the coming 10 days, they probably won’t notice the hard work that has been invested in ensuring their safety. The festival, which began 30 years ago as a modest off-Hollywood experiment, has evolved into a complex world-renowned extravaganza that, last year, attracted over 45,000 attendees.

Given the fact that many of those attendees draw outsized attention from paparazzi and gawkers and that the weather can throw in its own challenges at a moment’s notice, it is a credit to both the festival’s presenter, the Sundance Institute, and Park City’s local government that the festival runs so smoothly.

Over the past three decades, the city has learned to carefully regulate the influx of temporary businesses that set up shop during the festival. They have devised creative ways to enforce parking regulations and curb rogue signage and they are prepared to handle a barrage of thrill seekers all trying to cruise Main Street in search of the trendiest after-party.

For its part, Sundance has resisted the urge to dilute its mission and continues to focus the spotlight on the filmmakers and their work. As the industry has grown to include new technologies, it has added categories and venues. As a result, the festival stretches from Main Street to Kimball Junction with at least a dozen venues in between. This year’s addition, the New Frontier structure on Swede Alley, is likely to heighten interest and participation even further.

The Institute has also created an array of programs for the local community. This year, once again, Sundance will bring students to screenings and filmmakers to classrooms.

The partnership between Park City and the Sundance Institute has proven to be a profitable that is a direct result of their hard work and commitment. As the films roll this weekend, hundreds of city and Sundance employees, along with a brigade of volunteers, will be busy heading off potential problems and making sure that the filmmakers, not the troublemakers, are the center of attention.