Between watching the movies prior to the festival, doing our research on the history of the festival, and finally experiencing the festival itself, I feel like I have a pretty decent idea of what it really means to “Sundance.” Between the place, people, and the films, the magic of Sundancing is inescapable and addictive. Although I am not wishing to pursue a career in film myself, it is no question that the energy and happiness from the cast and crew is contagious. To be able to hear about their journeys that got them to Sundance and see how proud they are of their final products is so inspiring.
Also noteworthy is the city of Park City. After reading about the history of the festival and hearing about the process of getting the festival to the small mountain town, it is clear that the process was well worth it. The town is truly something special and its beautiful how the community comes together to welcome the approximately 50,000 visitors that come every year. The way that the bus system works as well as the assortment of special and welcoming theatres throughout the city is so organized and successful. I felt so comfortable there and even with all the celebrities in town, I felt extremely important to anyone that I spoke with. People were interested in hearing about what brought us to Sundance and which movies we recommended them seeing. In addition, having spent hours in the waitlist lines it was nice to always be greeted with a smile from the volunteers who were always eager to answer any and all of my questions. Everyone worked so nicely together to make sure people were having the best possible experience. That being said, it is clear why Sundance has been such a success in the past and there is no doubt in my mind that it will continue to be a success in the future.
Of course, the absolute best part of the festival was the films. Between the sixteen movies that I saw, I experienced every emotion. Anger, frustration, happiness, sadness and fear were all prevalent while watching the films. I found myself being inspired and motivated and seeing so many people fulfill their dreams by getting to that point made me ask myself what I was doing to reach my ultimate goals. Seeing these films opened my eyes to the power that lies within the independent film industry. Through learning so much about the process of creating an independent film and the struggles that independent filmmakers have, it made me as a viewer so much more appreciative of the final products. Having such powerful messages being displayed in such a creative and beautiful way made the meaning so much clearer and more effective.
By analyzing and studying the entirety of the festival I feel so much more connected to the film industry. I know that in the future watching movies will never be the same. Instead of just simply watching a movie I find myself looking deeper at the message, meaning, myth and power of the film. A simple mainstream love story or action film will never be held to the same caliber as some of the movies I was able to enjoy in preparation to the festival and during the festival itself. Being part of the whole Sundance experience truly opened my eyes to the power of film and at times even made me question why I believe what I believe and if I should reevaluate those beliefs.
All in all, I can honestly say that Sundance was an experience unlike any other. I look forward to many more movies and memories within the festivals to come!