How to Sundance

The ultimate destination for devoted movie fans outside of Hollywood is the snow-covered village of Park City, Utah. Once a year, glamorous movie stars, photo-hungry paparazzi and big-name film critics swarm Utah for Robert Redford’s movie fest. It’s not just for celebs, though – any ordinary college student can see movie premieres and attempt to hobnob with famous people, without breaking the bank. Here’s how.

Transportation

Park City provides free public transportation. Use it. The buses run everywhere you need to go, and often. There’s no need to rent a car – there is a reasonably priced shuttle from the airport, and often hotels will provide shuttles into the heart of Park City.

Lodging

I’ve stayed at the Best Western six miles out of town and have never had a problem. It’s great especially for its low rates, a pool and a decent free breakfast. If you and friends bring sleeping bags, you can cram quite a few people on the floor and split the bill.

Dining

Food is expensive, and recently the film companies and sponsors have been renting out entire restaurants for private parties. So, the way to go is to stop in at the Albertson’s that is right between two of the theaters and right on the bus line. Here you can get deli sandwiches, snacks and fruit for your long stay in the wait-list line. For a decent pizza, try the Red Banjo on Main Street.

Partying

I don’t know what they’re like; I’ve never been to any. They are not what Sundance is about, and are pretty much off-limits to the masses. They are shameless product placement fronts for sponsors to unload free stuff on celebrities. Admittance is based on looks, a connected friend or the color on your pass. From what I’ve heard, imagine Capitol Hill staffers networking and flattering each other in Ugg boots and new Patagonia parkas, and you have a Sundance party. Spend your time seeing movies instead.

Company

Go with friends. Having friends is essential to making it through so many movies in a day. A great part of the experience is the people you’ll meet on buses, on the street and in line. If you go with people, you don’t have to stick together all day, and after the second or third hour in line you’ll be looking for other people to talk to anyway. This year’s long lines spawned instantly tight friendships. We looked out for each other, saved spots in line, went on food runs and enthusiastically traded stories and reviews. Of all the magic of Sundance, these made-in-the-wait-list-line friendships are most dear to me.

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