.
F

ame came out of nowhere. It descended on the old mining town and transformed it anew. Skiers, celebrities, and Banksy paintings proliferate there today, and each January, one of the world’s most popular film festivals happens in this town nestled in the Rocky Mountains. This is Park City, Utah—home to the Sundance Film Festival.

While the festival is virtual this year, Diplomatic Courier traveled to Park City for a glimpse of Sundance’s home, where groundbreaking independent films get their chance to captivate the world each year.

>> READ OUR SUNDANCE PICKS FOR THE YEAR

“Sundance has really just kicked off and become such a global sensation because of the warm-welcoming and hospitality that Park City offers people,” said Junior Enrique Sanchez, Board Member for the Park City Community Foundation.

Before gaining stardom with Sundance, Park City existed as a prosperous silver mining town in the latter decades of the nineteenth century. Most mines began closing in the 1930s, and by the 1950s, the area became a ghost town. However, skiing and winter sports eventually took over, bringing in income and helping the community thrive to this day. Park City’s ski resorts and mountains served as a central venue for the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games.

Film entered the Park City scene in the 1980s when the Utah/United States Film Festival relocated there from Salt Lake City. The Sundance Institute assumed control in 1985 and later changed the name to the Sundance Film Festival after Robert Redford’s character, the “Sundance Kid,” from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Redford was the first chair of the festival, and many credit him for launching Sundance. He’s still involved to this day.

Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid (1969). Robert Redford and Paul Newman. Madam Tussaud Hollywood. Photo by Ansel Adams via CC.

The event occurs annually during a ten-day timeframe each January in Park City. Movie screenings, panels, parties, and more take place. “The ten days that Sundance Film Festival usually runs during in-person events, it becomes like a small New York City,” Sanchez told Diplomatic Courier.

The 2021 and 2022 festivals took place virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, despite its virtual state this year from January 20-30, Park City felt lively. Sundance ads decorated the main street. Large banners and bright flags sprung up all around. The Egyptian Theatre’s marquee announced “Sundance Film Festival” in classic letters. Locals and tourists wandered the streets, clicking photos in front of the banners and other notable sights. Credit goes to Park City’s community and their work to ensure Sundance’s success in these not-so-normal times.

“The Park City community understands the vitalness [of] the Sundance Film Festival,” remarks Sanchez. “The community is really welcoming of tourism and filmmakers during this time because it brings in a lot of the money that we can reuse for our infrastructure and for other buildings and programs that we have in this city.”

As the Sundance Film Festival evolves, Park City must develop with it. More than 122,000 attendees visited the festival in Park City in 2019. Sanchez expressed the need for the city to continue developing infrastructure to support the number of tourists that come during those ten days, especially in the years ahead when the festival will hopefully return with in-person events. The investment also brings global attention and economic profit that outsize any other event throughout the year in Utah.

The Sundance Film Festival continues to broaden beyond Park City. It expanded internationally to places like London and Hong Kong before the pandemic and grew virtually these past two years. However, Sundance’s evolution doesn’t mean Park City’s influence will fade. Park City will always be the festival's home because it’s the community that brings it to life.

About
Whitney DeVries
:
Whitney DeVries is a Diplomatic Courier correspondent currently pursuing a master’s degree in International Affairs and Global Enterprise at the University of Utah.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

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www.diplomaticourier.com

Home of the Festival

Sundance Film Festival sign in Park City, Utah. Photo by Travis Wise via CC.

January 30, 2022

While the Sundance Film Festival is virtual this year, Diplomatic Courier's Whitney DeVries traveled to Park City for a glimpse of Sundance’s home, where groundbreaking independent films get their chance to captivate the world each year.

F

ame came out of nowhere. It descended on the old mining town and transformed it anew. Skiers, celebrities, and Banksy paintings proliferate there today, and each January, one of the world’s most popular film festivals happens in this town nestled in the Rocky Mountains. This is Park City, Utah—home to the Sundance Film Festival.

While the festival is virtual this year, Diplomatic Courier traveled to Park City for a glimpse of Sundance’s home, where groundbreaking independent films get their chance to captivate the world each year.

>> READ OUR SUNDANCE PICKS FOR THE YEAR

“Sundance has really just kicked off and become such a global sensation because of the warm-welcoming and hospitality that Park City offers people,” said Junior Enrique Sanchez, Board Member for the Park City Community Foundation.

Before gaining stardom with Sundance, Park City existed as a prosperous silver mining town in the latter decades of the nineteenth century. Most mines began closing in the 1930s, and by the 1950s, the area became a ghost town. However, skiing and winter sports eventually took over, bringing in income and helping the community thrive to this day. Park City’s ski resorts and mountains served as a central venue for the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games.

Film entered the Park City scene in the 1980s when the Utah/United States Film Festival relocated there from Salt Lake City. The Sundance Institute assumed control in 1985 and later changed the name to the Sundance Film Festival after Robert Redford’s character, the “Sundance Kid,” from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Redford was the first chair of the festival, and many credit him for launching Sundance. He’s still involved to this day.

Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid (1969). Robert Redford and Paul Newman. Madam Tussaud Hollywood. Photo by Ansel Adams via CC.

The event occurs annually during a ten-day timeframe each January in Park City. Movie screenings, panels, parties, and more take place. “The ten days that Sundance Film Festival usually runs during in-person events, it becomes like a small New York City,” Sanchez told Diplomatic Courier.

The 2021 and 2022 festivals took place virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, despite its virtual state this year from January 20-30, Park City felt lively. Sundance ads decorated the main street. Large banners and bright flags sprung up all around. The Egyptian Theatre’s marquee announced “Sundance Film Festival” in classic letters. Locals and tourists wandered the streets, clicking photos in front of the banners and other notable sights. Credit goes to Park City’s community and their work to ensure Sundance’s success in these not-so-normal times.

“The Park City community understands the vitalness [of] the Sundance Film Festival,” remarks Sanchez. “The community is really welcoming of tourism and filmmakers during this time because it brings in a lot of the money that we can reuse for our infrastructure and for other buildings and programs that we have in this city.”

As the Sundance Film Festival evolves, Park City must develop with it. More than 122,000 attendees visited the festival in Park City in 2019. Sanchez expressed the need for the city to continue developing infrastructure to support the number of tourists that come during those ten days, especially in the years ahead when the festival will hopefully return with in-person events. The investment also brings global attention and economic profit that outsize any other event throughout the year in Utah.

The Sundance Film Festival continues to broaden beyond Park City. It expanded internationally to places like London and Hong Kong before the pandemic and grew virtually these past two years. However, Sundance’s evolution doesn’t mean Park City’s influence will fade. Park City will always be the festival's home because it’s the community that brings it to life.

About
Whitney DeVries
:
Whitney DeVries is a Diplomatic Courier correspondent currently pursuing a master’s degree in International Affairs and Global Enterprise at the University of Utah.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.