Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sundance - January in Utah

Every January the Sundance Film Festival descends on Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah.  This indie film festival brings in celebrities and thousands of visitors.  It provides some colorful (if sometimes tiresome) relief from the cold, snow, and smog that is ever-present in January.

You would think this would be an exciting time for someone like me - a big movie buff.  But the truth is, I have only viewed a couple of Sundance films actually during the festival over the years.  For one thing, it isn't easy to get tickets.  You have to sign up well ahead of time for a time to buy your tickets.  Before that time comes, you need to review all the available shows and show times.  And then sometimes your preferences are sold out by the time your turn rolls around.  I just hate that whole process.  Especially if you are trying to coordinate with other people who may or may not like the same movies.  We've done it, but sometimes you just have to compromise and go with what's available or what the rest of the group want.  And I'll admit, it has always been fun to attend.  There is such a sense of excitement surrounding all showings in the festival.

But really, I prefer to avoid the hassle and the crowds, and instead, write down the names of any movies that get good reviews.  Then I add them to my Netflix queue -- even if they're not available yet, they just go on a hold list until they do become available.  By adding to the hold list, you let Netflix know this is a film of interest and they are more likely to obtain it if enough people ask for it.  I do the same thing with the Oscars, particularly noting good foreign films.

You see, I don't feel the need to see a movie when it's the latest hot thing out.  If it's a good movie, it will stand the test of time.  Some of the Sundance movies will go mainstream after the festival - low-budget gems that make it to the big time.  And almost all the indie movies eventually become available on Netflix.  I'm willing to wait.  In many cases, they are out a year later.

Our local news noted five former Sundance films that are available now on Netflix  This is by no means an exhaustive list, but just some random ones that writer chose to feature.  I may watch one of those.  Two don't interest me much, and two involve phobias of mine: fear of heights and claustrophobia.  I know I couldn't watch those.  But the documentary does interest me and I'll check it out.

The thing I love about indie films is the range and depth of subject matter.  Nothing is formula.  Most are surprising.  That's not to say that every indie is a fantastic movie, or even necessarily interesting to me.  But the choices are great and once you start watching, you're liable to be hooked and may never be satisfied with a blockbuster, big budget (but likely formula) movie again.

I'll be keeping my eyes and ears open.

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