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Experience the Sundance Film Festival in Salt Lake City

An insiders guide how to fest the right way

Tuesday December 31, 2019
By Lauren Wester

 

Independent films, glistening snowflakes, a grand mountain backdrop, and Robert Redford­—what do all these things have in common? The famous Sundance Film Festival. Salt Lake City is bustling with lounges and premieres during the annual beloved Festival. With six theaters and three noteworthy lounges, you can get lost in the exciting Sundance Film Festival atmosphere while enjoying the perks and conveniences of Salt Lake City like a local.

Not only can you say you attended THE Sundance Film Festival (you know, the one started by Robert Redford that grew from filmmaker labs and workshops), but you’ll have considerable bragging rights after you’ve watched all the future Oscar-winning films before they hit theaters. You can even rub elbows with the filmmakers, industry folk and actors by attending Q&As, panels, or finding them at a lounge if that’s more your thing. Have you started looking for tickets already? You’ll just need a bit more patience, unless you’re getting a Festival pass (if you’re a true fangirl-movie-goer, you should go this route). Individual ticket sales begin January 14 (for Members), January 16 (for locals), and January 21 for the public (anyone who isn’t a local or a Sundance Institute Member).

So to get ahead of the curve, here are some insider secrets of the Sundance Film Festival that you’ve been waiting for:

Load the Sundance Film Festival App

Stay up to date with the Sundance Film Festival App

With a favorites tab, notifications so you don’t lose track of time, an easy eWaitlist, and the full Festival schedule, the Sundance Film Festival app will help you navigate the what and where of the Festival. Tip: Most festivalgoers forget about the eWaitlist, so you’ll have an advantage of getting into sold-out movies easier than most.

Book a Hotel in Salt Lake City

With everything at your fingertips in Salt Lake, not to mention reasonable lodging rates ($500+ per night rooms? No thank you), hotels in Salt Lake are the smart way to go. From luxurious and historic hotels like The Grand America to hip and stylish hotels like The Kimpton Hotel Monaco (did we mention the free bicycle rentals?), Salt Lake City makes a great home base for your Sundance Film Festival journey. And if you have a panel or film you need to catch in Park City or at the Sundance Mountain Resort, it’s just a quick jaunt up the canyon.

Sign up For the Panels and Attend Live Music Events

With a huge focus on films (we get it though), the crowds sometimes lose sight of the incredible panels and concerts at the festival. That’s good news for you, because you won’t have to fight to get a glimpse of your favorite actor or YouTuber speaking about the things they’re passionate about. Many of the panels host inspirational speakers and thought-provoking subjects, so don’t glaze over that ‘Offscreen’ section on the official schedule.

Go to the Festival Lounges and Feel Fancy

We mourn those who will have sat by their computers on January 14, 16 & 21 exactly as the clock strikes noon, only to see the horrific “sold out” notice flash upon their screens, imminently revealing their fate of the eWaitlist. So what’s there to do in Salt Lake City if you’re impatiently waiting, but you still want to have an experience in the meantime? Hit up one of the three Festival lounges of the city (all within walking distance of the theaters).

 

 

Festival Lounge at Copper Common

This trendy Festival lounge is the ideal waiting or post-film hangout. As one of our top selects, you can sip on some classy cocktails and listen to live music at the Festival Lounge at Copper Common, just steps from the memorable Broadway Centre Cinemas. Concert lineup here.

Festival Lounge at East Liberty Tap House

With more live music and flowing drinks, the Festival Lounge at East Liberty Tap House will have an immense selection of brews, located right next to the iconic indie-film-loving Tower Theatre (a once crumbling building restored by the Salt Lake Film Society). Concert lineup here.

The Queer Lounge at The Daily

A beautiful LGBTQ+ friendly atmosphere, The Queer Lounge at The Daily celebrates everyone. Marinate in the thriving LGBTQ+ culture in Utah with live music, coffee, a modern ambiance, and plenty of friends you haven’t quite met yet. We’re thinking this is the place to be after watching ‘Kajillionaire’ at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. Concert lineup here.

Read up on the Films in Advance

Nothing is worse than losing out on a seat by a minute or two. We suggest reading up on all the movies so you’re not scrambling to find that one movie title with Taylor Swift, or the buzz-worthy thriller of the year. Do your homework, make a must-see list, and sit by your computer the minute tickets go on sale. Here’s the full printable schedule to make your life easier.

Some films on our must-see list:

Dream Horse

A true story of a Welsh cleaner and bartender who decides to pursue horseracing. Convincing friends and neighbors to invest in her dream of breeding and rearing a horse of her own, she’s soon faced with competing against the upper class and elite of horseracing.

Downhill

During a ski vacation in the Alps, a married couple, played by Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (yada yada yada), escape a life-threatening avalanche, leaving them questioning their relationship and life decisions after the traumatic event.

Farewell Amor

This U.S. Dramatic Competition film follows the life of an Angolan immigrant after a 17-year separation from his family. As he heads to the U.S., he’s reunited with his wife and teenage daughter. Barely remembering his family, he’s faced with the challenge of sharing a one-bedroom apartment, but something brings them all together—the love of dance.

Four Good Days

A film featuring Mila Kunis and Glenn Close—we’re in. This film from the Premieres category follows the life of an opioid addict who may be able to recover with the help of a new drug, but she has to be able to stay clean for four days. With her mother by her side, their relationship is put to the test during this tough time.

The Dissident

A Documentary Premiere about the Washington Post journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi who disappeared from Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, later to be found assassinated. Following the emotional journey of his fiancée and fellow dissidents around the world, this film unveils the global cover-up story following his murder.