Promontory is the ideal base camp for enjoying the internationally known Sundance Film Festival. We are close enough to the action yet far enough to be a genuine retreat from the crowds and energy. Many members come out to their vacation homes to take advantage of the best of independent film during the ten-day event when Park City is transformed into Tinseltown. Others visit simply because they know the secret that Sundance is one of the best times to ski; the slopes are empty because the thousands of visitors are here for film, not snow!
Whatever their motivation for visiting, our staff makes it easy for members to navigate the traffic that accompanies the festival. We operated a Sundance Shuttle to whisk Promontory members and owners to the centrally located Holiday Village 4 Cinemas on Kearns Blvd. and Park Ave, in addition to running our regular shuttle service for skiers to both Deer Valley and Park City Mountain where they enjoyed exceptional conditions and our luxurious Alpine Lodge and PC Lodge.
As part of our tradition of providing unique and exclusive programming for members, Member Connections brought a taste of Sundance to Promontory’s state-of-the-art, 50-seat theater at The Shed Clubhouse. We coordinated complimentary screenings of four notable FiReFilms documentaries courtesy of Promontory member Lauren Vitulli during the opening weekend of Sundance. Showcased films included “Long Gone Wild” focusing on whales, the Oscar-nominated “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” about children’s television icon Mr. Rogers, “72 Minutes” exploring U.S. veteran suicide, and the Jeff Metcalf documentary about a University of Utah professor who has been teaching students the art of making impactful documentaries. Attendee, Andrea Borg said, “We were absolutely delighted to see that FiReFilms was screening at the promontory theatre and signed up to see as many films as we could. Being able to see such thoughtfully curated films in such a cozy setting (without the Sundance traffic hassle) is a real treat!! The films this year were important, thought-provoking, and beautifully done. We feel very privileged to be amongst the first people to see them and to have the directors and producers there to answer questions and give us additional insights.”
We also welcomed independent, New York-based filmmaker Naghmeh Shirkhan, who presented two screenings of Maki, each followed by a Q&A with the audience. The Iranian-born female filmmaker won the Best Director award at last year’s Chelsea Film Festival for this Japanese language feature shot in New York City that explores the challenges of a young woman immigrant working as a hostess at a gentleman’s club.
In the last decade or so, music has become an integral aspect of Sundance. And Promontory was no exception. The Outfitter’s Cabin was transformed into Broadway Media’s Festival Haus, where singers and songwriters gave intimate acoustic performances with the stone fireplace as the backdrop. To kick it off, British act, The Struts, played a high-energy acoustic set of some of their retro-style rock hits.
Each year, the ASCAP Music Café on Main Street celebrates the connection between music and film with live performances. This year’s line-up included Deana Carter, Everlast, Leland, and many others. Performances were free for festival pass holders.
As a whole, the 2019 Sundance Film Festival was a wonderful success for filmmakers and audiences. The overarching theme seemed to focus on women filmmakers who are taking the industry by storm. In fact, women comprised an unprecedented 44% of the directors included in the festival.
While “Clemency” (U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic) and “One Child Nation” (U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary) claimed the top festival awards, it seemed there was no one standout film this year. There were many! Some favorites included documentaries about Dr. Ruth, David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and Miles Davis. Another powerful award winner, “Midnight Traveler,” shot by an Afghan family on their iPhones, chronicles their escape from the Taliban and experience living in refugee camps in Eastern Europe. Feature film highlights included “Late Night,” “Share,” and “Brittany Runs a Marathon.” “Blinded by the Light,” a feature about a Bruce Springsteen-obsessed 16-year-old British Pakistani boy in 1980s England, was purchased by New Line Cinema for an impressive $15 million, this year’s most expensive Sundance acquisition to date. Amazon Studios made some big purchases as well, paying $13 million for “Late Night” and $14 million in a worldwide deal for the fact-based Adam Driver-Jon Hamm political thriller “The Report.”
If you missed any of these films during the festival, stay tuned as you’ll likely find them soon in theaters or streaming on your television. And remember, you heard about them at Sundance and here first!