Park City • Staying in Park City during the Sundance Film Festival is difficult enough without having to find a place to stay for an entire production team after crossing time zones and oceans.
The sheer cost and logistics keeps many directors from making the trip to Utah, even when projects they’ve worked on for months or even years are revealed to an audience for the first time.
Enter Airbnb, the San Francisco-based lodging company that provides a platform for renters and tenants in cities around the world to rent out or stay in unused rooms for a short time.
Airbnb is a sponsor with Sundance this year and provided lodging for several international filmmakers during the festival that otherwise couldn’t afford or couldn’t find another option to stay in Park City.
Amy Curtis-Mcintyre, the Chief Marketing Officer for Airbnb, said her company and Sundance were a perfect fit: catering to the clientele of the film festival who are creators in the arts-and-entertainment space.
"What we know about our community, they’re writers, musicians, artists, chefs, teachers and athletes," Mcintyre said. "It tends to be an idea that really appeals to people that lean on the right side of the brain, creative spirits and creative souls."
The company is also sponsoring the Airbnb Haus at the festival, located on the corner of Park and Heber Avenues, a place to stop and grab coffee or relax amidst the hubbub of the festival.
Thomas Balmés, of Paris, and director of "Happiness," said he had to find lodging for himself and 10 of his production crew members, a process he called "a nightmare." The group had to split between different hotels on different days before being offered lodging from Airbnb. The hotel reservations had already been finalized by the time Airbnb stepped in, but Balmés said the house also has been a big help.
"Lodging is a huge, huge problem here, it’s insane. I think this is the best partnership they could ever invent," Balmés said.
Mehret Mandefro, a producer for the Ethiopian film "Difret," said she was "giddy" to learn about the opportunity to visit Park City, to represent Ethiopia and have a chance to see Utah’s "snow-covered" mountains.
"Had we not gotten Airbnb to host our team, it we would have been 10 people in a small condo super happy to be here, but a little stressed," Mandefro said. "So honestly, the opportunity they gave us is the chance to finally relax and enjoy the fruits of our labor and celebrate as a team."
Israeli filmmaker Noaz Deshe, who directed "White Shadow" for the festival, said it’s a "beautiful honor" to be selected to Sundance for the first time.
He said the opportunity to stay in an Airbnb home was "heaven sent" and said the company represents a borderless community for sharing personal and private spaces with people of different cultures.
"It is an intimate human experience at its best and a great way to experience authentic local culture without a corporate take on your experience," Deshe said.
Curtis-Mcintyre said Airbnb chose to house lesser-known international directors instead of stars and celebrities to celebrate the foundation of the company as a start up and the grassroots spirit of Airbnb users.
"Airbnb is about the little guy. We’re really made up of 350,000 micro-entrepreneurs," Mcintyre said. "We love the big stars, we love the celebs. But we’re a start-up, so we naturally gravitate toward the up-and-comers, the underdog."
As the Airbnb Haus buzzes with festivalgoers around her, Mcintyre sums up the Haus itself and the opportunity for the filmmakers nicely: "It’s been home sweet house for the last few days."
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