Savvy locals know how to attend Sundance Film Festival screenings in Salt Lake City, minus the parking hassles, traffic congestion, and 17 layers of clothes needed when you venture to The Republic of Park City during January.
Accessibility and comfort level are important considerations when choosing a film experience, said Tori Baker, executive director of the Salt Lake Film Society, the nonprofit organization that runs Broadway Centre Cinemas and the Tower Theatre, two of the Salt Lake City screening locations.
“It’s not quite the scene as in Park City, and there’s not as many celebrity sightings, but Salt Lake is a great way to experience the magic of independent film,” said Jason Mathis, executive director of the Downtown Alliance. To welcome moviegoers to town, the Alliance will re-light its blue holiday lights for the festival.
One change is that New Frontier art exhibits won’t be on display at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, as they were last year. But a New Frontier film, “Coral: Rekindling Venus,” will be screening at the Clark Planetarium.
Here’s more tips for Sundancing in Salt Lake City:
The festival venue • The Salt Lake City Festival Café at the Beehive Tea Room (12 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City), is the only Sundance-affiliated spot classified as a “festival venue.” (In comparison, there are six “festival venues” in Park City.)
Details • The café is open Monday-Friday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., and on weekends noon to 11 p.m. The café offers 35 varieties of tea, as well as other refreshments, and provides a convenient spot to cool your heels (or, rather, warm up) in-between films that are playing either at the Rose or Broadway. The café features live music at 8:30 p.m. each night from Jan. 18 to Jan. 26, and at 5:30 p.m. on certain nights.
Box office • The Salt Lake City Main Box Office at Trolley Square, 750 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City, is open from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Jan. 17-26. (On Jan. 27, the box office will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) Each morning at 8 a.m., a limited number of day-of tickets (and the first screening of the next day) are released. There’s no online sales of these released tickets; you have to show up at the box office.
Waitlist lines • To take your chances, bring cash, and arrive at the theater two hours before the screening time. (For the first screening of the day, you may arrive one hour before the screening begins.) Collect a waitlist number, return 30 minutes before the screening, and you’ll line up by number. (See theater information box for average number allowed in at local theaters.)
Prepare for next year • Next November, visit sundance.org and register for locals-only tickets. The second weekend of the festival is more relaxed, especially in Salt Lake City, where you can do what Sundance organizers suggest: Focus on film.
Or, you could do what Mathis often does: Wait a few months to see films that debuted at Sundance screen for the public at Salt Lake City arthouses. The Tower and Broadway, he said, give Salt Lake City residents a film festival experience all-year long.
Beyond Park City: Screening locations
Once again, films will be screened at four theaters in Salt Lake City, with an additional film screened at the Clark Planetarium. In addition, Sundance screenings are scheduled in Ogden and at the Sundance Resort in Provo Canyon.
Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center • 138 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City; 495 seats; average waitlist admitted: 25.
Salt Lake Main Library auditorium • 210 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City; 300 seats; average waitlist admitted: 16.
Broadway Centre Cinemas • 111 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City; 488 seats in two theaters; average waitlist admitted: 11.
Tower Theatre • 876 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City; 349 seats; average waitlist admitted: 16.
Clark Planetarium • You’ll need tickets to watch “Coral: Rekindling Venus,” which will be screened three times — 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19, Tuesday, Jan. 22 and Saturday, Jan. 26 — at the planetarium, 110 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City; 801- 456-7827; clarkplanetarium.org. (Screenings will also be held at the New Frontier exhibit at The Yard, 1251 Kearns Blvd., Park City.) It’s described as an “augmented-reality, full-dome” film and runs 60 minutes.
Peery’s Egyptian Theater • 2415 Washington Blvd., Ogden; 840 seats; average waitlist admitted: 22. Sundance Resort Screening Room • North Fork, Provo Canyon; 164 seats; average waitlist admitted: 10.
Tickets • At filmguide.sundance.org/film/130003/coral_rekindling_venus#
Parking • I learned this tip the hard way: If a Salt Lake City sign warns you’ll be towed if you park in this spot, believe the sign.
— David Burger