The Chronicle’s View: A whole lot of Sundancing going on

This weekend marks the end of the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 30. Going with it is the last opportunity for U students to experience the nightlife, screenings and atmosphere of one of the nation’s pre-eminent film festivals for another year.

Sundance has been underway for roughly a week now, and many U students have either made the trip to Park City to catch a glimpse of celebrity-central (Main Street), headed over to the Broadway Cinema to catch an in-town screening or attended any number of concerts that are held during the festival.

These are completely understandable.

Although there is an undeniable stigma associated with Sundance, the black mark is largely unfounded. People, especially Utahns, have a tendency to villainize the festival, to see its attendees as parasitic, and to view the entire operation as exploitive, shallow and corporate.

Granted, there is a degree of truth to these assumptions-the massive influx of outsiders is somewhat intimidating and pesky, yes-but these stigmas are no reason to avoid the festivities altogether.

Massive events like Sundance have an undeniable following, and there is going to be some discomfort any time you get cold, eager, anxious individuals together in one place.

That doesn’t make Sundance unbearable, however.

There are a variety of ways to get involved and experience the festival. If you don’t feel like driving to Park City, then don’t-stick around the valley and catch a film or two at the Broadway Cinemas or Trolly Square. Or, if you’re a 21-year-old U student, head over to Brewvies and see some underappreciated, extremely low-budget wonders at the Slamdance film festival.

Movies not necessarily your thing? That’s OK, too-there are non-cinema means of experiencing Sundance.

There are a plethora of concerts, many of which can be attended for free if you’re the patient type and don’t mind waiting outside a venue in the cold. Bands that have already played at Sundance include Ben Kweller, G-Love and the Special Sauce, The Kings of Leon and others.

As an added bonus, there is also a good chance for interested music-heads to see an unscheduled concert-Sundance has a long and illustrious history of dropping big-name bands on unsuspecting attendees without any prior notice, much to the joy of Sundancers.

Even if you don’t get lucky with any good music acts or film screenings, there’s still hope-the Sundance nightlife is a mythic beast all its own.

There are innumerable parties, award ceremonies and public gatherings unlike any other events held in Salt Lake City all year long. If celebrity-watching is your thing, you can even forego the parties and just keep your eyes peeled while meandering Main Street in Park City.

So, just about any way you slice it, there is no valid reason not to at least take a gander at Sundance. The festival ends this weekend, and you won’t get another chance like this for 365 days.

Remember, there is a reason so much hype surrounds Sundance, and maybe it would be prudent to acknowledge the fact that so many people can’t possibly all be wrong. Besides, what do you have to lose other than a boring weekend?