It’s been three years since movie lovers last gathered in Park City to take in the sensory onslaught that is the Sundance Film Festival — so one could be forgiven for not remembering how to do it.
Here are some tips about navigating the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, which runs Jan. 19-29 in person — in venues in Park City, Salt Lake City and the Sundance Mountain Resort — and Jan. 24-29 online.
Ticket passes • Most of the in-person ticket pass options are sold out — except for the $500 Salt Lake City Pass (good for any screening in a Salt Lake City venue) and the $3,500 Express Pass for the festival’s second half. Go to festival.sundance.org/tickets for information.
Individual tickets • Single-screening tickets went on sale Thursday, also at festival.sundance.org/tickets. Tickets are $25 each for in-person screenings, and $20 for online screenings.
Online packages • All sold out. The exception is the $25 Explorer Pass, which gives you online access to the Indie Episodic program and some of the short films.
Get the app • Go to your favorite place to get apps for your phone, and search “Sundance Film Festival.” The app for the 2023 festival is available for free, and it’s a handy thing to have. You can keep track of your screening schedule, look up information on movies and venues, and it’s where you can sign up for the e-waitlist to get into movie screenings that you thought were sold out.
Voting on the app • Another reason to get the app: New this year, the app is how moviegoers can vote for the festival’s audience awards. So there’s no more tearing the stars on those little slips of paper the volunteers would hand you when you walked into the theater, and you’d never be able to find as you were leaving, and you would find in your coat pocket a week later.
Salt Lake City venues • Most of the old reliable screening venues in Salt Lake City are running again: Two screens at Broadway Centre Cinemas, 111 E. 300 South; the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. 300 South; and the Grand Theatre at 1575 S. State. (The Tower Theatre remains closed for renovations, and the City Library auditorium is not being used as a festival venue.) New this year, the Megaplex Theaters at The Gateway, at 400 West and 200 South, will have six of its screens open for Sundance screenings — and since they all have reclining seats, it may be the most comfortable place to see a festival movie.
Park City venues • The following venues are back to welcome moviegoers again: Eccles Center Theatre, 1750 Kearns Blvd.; Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.; Holiday Village Cinemas at 1776 Park Ave.; Library Center Theatre, 1255 Park Ave.; Park Avenue Theatre (formerly the Yarrow) at 1800 Park Ave.; Prospector Square Theatre, 2175 Sidewinder Drive; Redstone Cinemas at 6030 Market St. in Kimball Junction; and The Ray at 1768 Park Ave. (Two familiar venues from past years, The MARC and the Temple Theatre, are not in use in 2023.)
Parking • There is, technically, parking available in Park City proper. It’s rare, and usually expensive, but it does exist. If you’d rather not spend $50 for a parking space, the best move is to park in Kimball Junction, near the Park City Transit station (on the west side of state highway 224), and take the city’s shuttle buses into Park City. The buses are free to ride.
Buses • The shuttle buses also run among the Park City venues, from early in the day to the wee small hours of the morning, and are the easiest way to get from one venue to the next. The buses are also a great place to chat with strangers, and to find out which movies are getting good “buzz.”
Altitude • Park City is 7,000 feet above sea levels, and even Salt Lake City residents can feel a bit of the oxygen deprivation — so you can imagine how bad altitude sickness hits the flatlanders from the coasts. Stay hydrated. Also, if you’re going to Park City for the parties, remember that alcohol hits harder at altitude, so take it easy with the booze.
Staying healthy • “Festival crud” is real, and a great many people who go to Sundance come back feeling sick. (In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a rumor that the coronavirus hit Park City even before it got the cruise ships — but if that had been true, Utah would have been ground zero.) Carry hand sanitizer, wash your hands frequently, and it won’t hurt you to wear a mask indoors. (Festival volunteers and staff will be wearing theirs.) And, yes, get your flu shot and your COVID boosters before you go to the festival.
Concessions • The rules for food and drink vary among Park City’s venues. Some allow food into the auditorium, while others don’t. (The Eccles, notoriously, has for years allowed only water bottles inside the theater.) You’ll learn the rules quickly enough as you visit each venue.
Picking movies • The rule of thumb is this: The bigger the movie star, the more likely the movie will be playing at the local multiplex in a few months. (Brandon Cronenberg’s “Infinity Pool” will open in some theaters on Jan. 27, before the festival is over.) Take a risk and pick something that likely will never make its way back to Utah again.
FOMO • Even with this year’s festival a bit smaller than in the pre-COVID days, the feeling that you’re missing out on something big will weigh on a festivalgoer. That’s how Sundance is designed, so that there are five or six really cool things happening at any given moment, and an attendee will never get to partake of them all. Embrace that, and enjoy the cool thing you are doing.