Enjoying the Sundance Film Festival’s 2017 Edition


Photo Credit: Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle

Vivian Lee, CEO of University of Utah Health Care, speaks inside the Sundance Filmmaker Lodge before the showing of Healing Health Care with Disruptive Health Technology in Park City, Utah on Friday, Jan. 28, 2017. (Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Lauren Gutierrez

Industry professionals including actors, directors and reporters from around the world descended upon Park City, Utah these past two weeks to take part in the famous Sundance Film Festival. National and international filmmakers submit movies every year to the annual ten-day event which celebrates dramatic cinema, documentaries and shorts in various genres, from horror to comedy.

A major highlight for many attendees on Jan. 27 was the screening of “Reservoir Dogs” for the movie’s 25th anniversary at the downtown Eccles Theatre. The event was followed by a Q&A session with director Quentin Tarantino and producer Lawrence Bender, an event so exclusive, according to a fellow press member, it was the “first time in 20 years” a press line had been cancelled, leaving only lucky ticket holders allowed to attend.

Earlier in the day, Eccles Theater featured the premiere of “Fun Mom Dinner.” Cast members made appearances on the red carpet, and included Molly Shannon, Toni Collette, Bridget Everett and Katie Aselton. Director Alethea Jones was also in attendance with screenwriter Julie Rudd, who was accompanied by her husband, actor Paul Rudd.

The cast of Fun Mom Dinner with Paul Rudd, (left to right) Molly Shannon, Toni Collete, Bridgett Everett, Katie Aselton, and Paul Rudd at the Eccles Press Line in Park City, Utah on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. (Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle)

Aside from movie premieres and screenings, the festival also featured cutting-edge digital media attractions like virtual reality installments that mix film and art in innovative ways. Tickets were required at the New Frontier VR Palace, but the Festival Village had an “Acura Mood Roads Experience” free of charge. Festival-goers stepped inside a large, black orb that was claimed to use “30 sensory inputs to capture brainwaves, pulse and facial expressions.” It created a unique experience for each participant, changing what they saw and heard based on their mood.

Sundance is full of invite-only events. The SundanceTV HQ Pre-party was one such event that required an RSVP and had limited admittance. It was an intimate get-together with a DJ, photo booth, open bar and hors d’oeuvres and marked one of the final events of the festival.

Bartenders and patrons inside the Sundance TV HQ Party in Park City, Utah on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. (Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle)

At the Filmmaker Lodge, the events finished off with “Healing Healthcare with Disruptive Health Technology” in the Cinema Cafe. The panel discussion was lead by Dr. Vivian S. Lee, the Dean at the School of Medicine (featured in the article image). She introduced the topic and showed a short film about projects students at the Center for Medical Innovation at the University of Utah have been working on with others.

Sundance is as much about art in general as it is about film. Art galleries were peppered throughout Main Street as were musical performances during the festival. The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers hosts what they call the ASCAP Music Cafe every year in which singer-songwriters perform their music to a small audience on a first-come, first-serve basis. Alabama-based artist Wilder Adkins was first in the line-up, singing alone on stage with only his guitar and a good sense of humor. Later in the evening at the Festival Basecamp, a performance by Joshy Soul and the Cool had the audience dancing, shouting and literally doing backflips with excitement.

Joshy Soul performs at the Sundance Basecamp Tent in Park City, Utah on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. (Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle)

The 2017 Sundance Film Festival was a whirlwind of entertainment. With help from their app, providing eschedule, program and e-waitlist information, having a good time was easier than ever.

Film submission information for next year’s festival will be available in May and tickets are on sale as early as October, so be sure to mark your calendar for next year. 

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