Welcome to the Sundance Film Festival!
Tips, The Scene and Park City Bars & Restaurants
For films, fun and friends, the Sundance Film Festival! fills the bill.
Sundance Film Festival 2014 Dates: Jan. 16-26
By Tim Barley
E-mail Tim at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nestled about an hour southeast of Salt Lake City, at around 11,000 ft above sea level, is Park City, Utah. For 50 weeks out of the year, it is your typical ski town with great skiing in the winter and fantastic biking and hiking in the summer.
But for 10 days in January each year, it turns into a showcase for independent filmmakers to display their work for Hollywood power players. And it's showtime for the public, which can see potentially ground-breaking films as well as rub elbows with stars and celebrities. It's the Sundance Film Festival.
The festival has been held in Park City since 1981. In 1985 it became part of the Sundance Institute, adding international films to the lineup. In 1991 it was renamed The Sundance Film Festival. Eating, drinking, partying, mingling, late-night bidding wars and deal making is the name of the game at Sundance.
The 2014 event is Jan. 16-26.
Parking It In Park City
During Sundance, the slopes are wide open.
Getting to Sundance is as easy as flying into Salt Lake City (SLC) and catching a shuttle. This is a much better idea than renting a car, as parking during the festival is next to impossible. There are many choices so it's best to call ahead and make a reservation a few days in advance of arrival. Prices range from $30 to $60 each way. There are several companies, all of which are listed on the Salt Lake airport's web site.
Lodging during the festival is hectic but not impossible. Rather than looking for hotel rooms, the best way to stay is by renting a condo or townhome. Choose someplace close to Main Street, the center of all that is happening in Park City, and save the trouble of having to take a cab or catch the bus.
One thing about Park City is that its mass transit bus system is well run and FREE to the public. The buses are clean and it makes frequent stops around the city; the main transit center is just off Main Street. Hours of operation are 7:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. This is the way to go during inclement weather or coming or going to the slopes – or the bars.
For those looking to ski, the local mountains offer some of the best powder and runs in the inter-mountain West. Three resorts – The Canyons, Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort – are all easily accessible by the aforementioned bus system. There is even a chairlift that comes right down to the middle of town that goes to the middle of the Park City Mountain Resort.
But during those 10 days of Sundance, there is movie watching and partying to be done.
Academy Award-nomiated actor Terrence Howard (Mr. Holland's Opus) is at the Style Lounge, holding a book about healthy living at home called, appropriately enough, "The Healthy Home."
There are several ways to get tickets to many of the films. Festival passes to all of the screenings can be purchased on the Sundance website, but pricing can be steeper than the ski runs. Individual tickets can be found by phone with pre-registration or by going to the main information store just off Main Street (literally the main street), and checking the main board to see what screenings are available.
Or, in some cases, just showing up to a screening site can result in getting a ticket due to no-shows.
Those screening sites are everywhere – in theaters, even offices. Getting into the corporate parties – the sizzle of Sundance for many – is not quite as simple. These big parties are thrown by some of the biggest companies in the entertainment industry. They are packed with A-list celebrities, offer bagloads of swag and acts like Beastie Boys and Metallica played in 2006.
But these are by invitation only, and the average Sundance spectators are best advised to hit some of Park City's fantastic eateries, bars and pubs.
For celebrities, Sundance is a series of premiers and appearances. And swag!
The PubClub Sundance Street Team – Dining Out
The writer enjoys his time pubclubbing in Park City.
The PubClub.com Sundance Street Team hit the town during the last weekend of the Sundance Film Festival. Here is their report.
Our PubClub tour began in afternoon. Looking for a nice, "quiet" place we found ourselves at O'Shucks, a good old-fashioned "bar" with our new friend and bartender, Andy, a former surf bum turned ski bum. He served up schooners was telling us, "yes, it is okay to throw your peanut shells on the floor." If you are looking for a place without a long line and a big schooner of beer, then we highly suggest OShuck's.
A few notes before going any further:
• Remember that at 11,000 ft above sea level alcohol has a MUCH different effect than it does at, say, Sharkeez in Hermosa Beach (which is at about 10 ft above sea level). Just keep in mind that you can't drink as much as you think you can in Park City.
• Two, due to state regulations, alcohol is highly regulated and there are measuring taps on all liquor; no "friendly" pours here. And ordering a double produces not a double dose of spirits but one standard drink and a shot.
• Third, smoking is allowed inside the establishments.
• Fourth, when going out to any of the 100s of bars and restaurants, no one cares how anyone else is dressed. Most everyone out clubbing or at dinner is dressed for the weather, not to draw attention to themselves. Sure, you may want to wear that nice little ensemble during the day when the sun is shining and it's "warm" out, but at night it gets COLD. Boots and hats, sweaters and sweatshirts are perfectly acceptable here.
• Fifth, and most importantly: BAR TIME IS 1 A.M.
On the plus side, Park City, is that it is the ONLY city in Utah which beer can be obtained 24/7. Not at the bars, mind you, but places like Albertson's and 7-11. Of course, beer in Utah not sold in bars and restaurants with liquor licenses is 3.2% alcohol, but it's beer.
The Spur Bar and Grill at 350 Main is a great place showcasing an "apres ski" vibe, with live music, a small dance floor and a seating area next to a fireplace. It is also the only bar in Park City that does not allow smoking inside but there is an ample outdoor patio along one edge of the bar on which to puff away. There is live music every night and a nominal cover charge – or "membership fee" as it's called in Park City. Jeremy, the bar manager, runs a pretty good bar, although it can take a bit of time to order a drink, so order two at a time.
Spur Bar and Grill has a full bar and drinks run average pricing. The crowd is a friendly, fun and energetic mix of 20-something's thru 50's ski bums enjoying a good time in a very non-Hollywood vibe kind of way. The male members of our team met up with a very fun group of ladies from Portland, Oregon and even the girls on the team met up with some pretty cool fellas from Boston. One caveat: At 12:30 a.m. on Saturday night, two female members of our team were asked for a $20 cover to get in, which they regrettably paid and were asked for another $4 to check their coats, even though there was only an hour until closing. It is a shame that the doormen couldn't see their way past the cover charge at such a late hour for a couple of girls.
Night after night we kept hearing about the No Name Saloon. Primarily a place to be seen, it is packed with a great-looking staff and patrons alike. It has an open, airy atmosphere with all things mountains on the walls, including a rather large deer head and a chandelier made of antlers. Cade, the bar manager, was able to usher us through the line that usually starts around 10 p.m., to people-watch and get good drinks. During the first week of the festival, the No Name Saloon is the place to hang out and watch the beautiful people
The PubClub Sundance Street Team – Dining Out
To fuel our appetite for Sundance, skiing and pubclubbing, we fueled ourselves at some fine restaurants. It's recommended to get reservations and expect to wait at least a half-hour after the reservation time to be seated.
For lunch our first day, we went to the La Casitas Mexican restaurant at 710 Main Street (on the north end of Main Street). Featuring "110%" authentic Mexican food, it has a large salsa bar, an extremely helpful staff and the large portions kept us extremely full for the remainder of the day.
For dinner, the choice of the night was The Riverhorse on Main. The main room here is airy and sparsely decorated, but not spartan. It has just enough to keep your interest when there is a lull in the conversation at the table without taking up all your time to take it all in. The food here is nothing short of spectacular. It's a bit pricey but not exorbitant for a resort town and the service is superb – friendly and attentive to every one of our needs. The wine list is wide-ranging and completes a very good menu of meats and seafood.
We also had extraordinary dining experience at Wahso, a fantastic Japanese/Asian fusion grill with a great atmosphere for either a date or large group. Try and get one of the booths (seating for 4) around the edge of the room. The three-course meal consisting of a couple of "firsts," a salad or soup and any of their terrific entrees. It is a mouth-watering, perfect-sized meal. Again, pricing here is on par with a resort town restaurant. What really sticks out at Wahso besides the service, which is local and very knowledgeable, are the famous martinis made with sake instead of gin or vodka. Particularly good is the sake appletini or the sake mojito, using sake in place of rum. They are must-have menu items. PubClub.com was well served here by Britta our server and Hannah the manager.
Saturday afternoon, the author enjoyed a nice and very comfortable lunch date at The Easy Street Brassiere and Bar with one of the girls he met from Portland. There is an upstairs area but they opted to dine at the downstairs bar near the fireplace and watch the falling snow. It was a perfect setting to enjoy the wild mushroom and chicken pot pie, wine and drinks. The menu features good old-fashioned home style food.
In all, Park City is a fantastic town with a great ski resort vibe to it all year round. But even for those who don't ski and are still looking for a great experience, mixing some Hollywood with the rusticity of the "après ski" feel, the Sundance Film Festival is the ideal event.