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How to Sundance: No big changes at this year's venues

Published January 14, 2013 1:23 pm

How to navigate • Stay "nice and settled," festival director says.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

When it comes to the venues at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, organizers aren't going to fix what ain't broken.

" 'Nice and settled' is a good way to put it," festival director John Cooper said of the organizational part of staging the 11-day festival in Park City, with additional venues in Salt Lake City, Ogden and the Sundance resort in Provo Canyon.

Last year, festival organizers had a big change with the reopening of the Park City Municipal Area Racquet Club — renamed The MARC — as a 550-seat theater venue. There are no new venues this year, but Cooper said, "we're always fine-tuning the experiential parts of the festival."

The biggest change at Sundance came behind the scenes, with the retirement of the Sundance Institute's longtime managing director Jill Miller. At the first of the year, the two new co-managing directors — Sarah Pearce (handling operations and Utah community relations) and Laurie Hopkins (in charge of budget and adminstration) — started their jobs. Both were internal promotions, so the transition has appeared seamless.

The only venue change is in Salt Lake City; the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art this year will not be housing a parallel version of the festival's New Frontier installation exhibit as it did last year. So if festivalgoers want to see the latest in video and interactive art, their only option is to stop by The Yard at 1251 Kearns Blvd., Park City.

Salt Lakers can get a taste of the New Frontier vibe, though. Australian artist Lynette Wallworth's full-immersion film "Coral: Rekindling Venus," shot for planetarium-dome theaters, will screen three times at the Clark Planetarium at The Gateway, 100 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City. Screenings are set for 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 19, 22 and 26. (The movie also will screen at 13 other planetariums around the country during the festival's run.)

Many of the festival's screenings are listed as sold out, thanks to pre-festival online sales, but Sundance has its ways of getting people in at the last minute:

Get up early • Every morning at 8, the festival releases a few tickets for that day's films (and for the next day's early-morning screenings) at the main box offices — Gateway Center, 136 Heber Ave., Park City, and Trolley Square, 700 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City. Day-of-show tickets must be bought in person (no online sales), at least two hours before the screening.

Wait in line • The wild-and-wacky waitlist system rewards moviegoers with stamina and a sense of adventure. Here's how it works: Get to the theater two hours before the screening (one hour before the first show of the morning), get in line, collect a waitlist number (sometimes called a "Q" number), come back 30 minutes before showtime, line up according to your waitlist number, hope that some seats will be empty, and pay your $15 (cash only).

Play hooky • You have a better chance of getting into a midweek matinee than an opening-weekend evening show. Also, by Tuesday, Jan. 22, word will spread about which movies are worth the trouble. Take the day off and have fun.

Be adventurous • The bigger the stars, the more likely the movie will make it back to your local theater later in the year. So unless you want to be in the same room as a movie star — and that is if you call a 1,270-seat auditorium "the same room" — instead look for the obscure films that will never play in Utah again.

Talk to people • Chat with strangers on the shuttle buses. Compare movie experiences with people in line. Read the Tribune's blog. Compliment the director of the short film you saw (he or she will be the one nervously pacing in the lobby). Lifelong friendships and even marriages have begun at Sundance in just that way. Open yourself up to the experience.

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Stay current with Sundance news, thanks to daily trailers in advance of the festival, and reviews and reports once screenings begin, at sltrib.com/Blogs/sundanceblog.