Departures' Guide to the 2011 Sundance Film Festival

Brandon Perlman

A step-by-step insider’s guide to navigating the
annual Sundance Film Festival—and what to pack for the trip.

Every January, the streets of Park City, Utah, fill with
actors, producers and cinephiles from around the world who’ve come to eat,
drink and socialize their way through the Sundance Film Festival’s ten days and
nearly 200 independent films. Those in the know find their way around a scene
that, to the novice, can quickly become frustrating: sold-out showings, fully
booked restaurants and guest-list-only parties. Here, a guide to Main Street
and beyond.

Film Screenings

For true cinephiles, the Express Pass A ($3,000;
provides access to all festival events, but early risers and
night owls can opt for the newly minted Adrenaline Pass ($400), which provides
entry to screenings between 11 p.m. and 11 a.m. If you haven’t already
purchased advance individual tickets, try the Main Street Box Office on the day
of the show: Every morning at 8 a.m., the festival releases tickets for that
day’s sold-out showings and all the first screenings for the following day. If
that fails, there’s always the waiting list outside each theater, which opens
two hours before the start of each show (sometimes earlier for bigger films);
tickets are released about 30 minutes prior to showtime. The best option is
knowing someone with an industry badge; he or she can request tickets from the
office the day before a showing.

Where to Stay

This year will be all about Deer Valley, with the year-old
St. Regis (from $975; and the month-old Montage (completely booked at press time;
holding court in the ski-only resort. Even if you don’t
book a room, make sure to check them out; the St. Regis’s Remède Spa will offer
Intraceuticals Infusion facials (from $195) and oxygen inhalations (from $30),
great for beating the altitude and jet lag (and late nights out), while the Montage
will host Sundance’s opening dinner. At the Canyons resort, the
year-and-a-half-old Waldorf Astoria (from $1,720 for a two-bedroom suite; has
a Golden Door Spa; try booking the Mountain Salvation sports massage ($155) with the Szekely Herbal Wrap ($125). The Sky Lodge (from $1,150 for a one-bedroom residence; has the most convenient location, right on Main Street at the base of Park City
Mountain Resort, but large groups would do well with a Park City rental from
Identity Properties (from $930 for a one-bedroom condo;

*All room rates valid as of press time

Where to Eat

It’s best to avoid the concentration of restaurants on Main
Street, since most industry dinners are held there. A see-and-be-seen
alternative is Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s J&G Grill at the St. Regis
(dinner, $50;, which serves locally sourced dishes like
parmesean-crusted Niman Ranch poulet rouge. For something more low-key, try
Squatters Roadhouse Grill (dinner, $30; for burgers or brunch,
or El Chubasco (dinner, $15;, which supplies the Los Angeles
contingency with a salsa bar and stellar fish tacos. If you do feel like
braving the Main Street madness, always try to make a reservation (but plan on
waiting regardless). Some standouts are Reef’s Restaurant (dinner, $40;
, which serves fresh Mediterranean fare, and the year-old
High West Distillery & Saloon (dinner, $45;, which happens to
be the world’s only ski-in gastro-distillery (it currently produces small-batch
vodkas and whiskeys). And Deer Valley club Talisker recently debuted its first
restaurant open to the public, Talisker on Main (dinner, $65;
, serving haute comfort food like buttermilk-fried chicken
and short-rib shepherd’s pie.


It’s True—No One Ever Skis

If movies aren’t your thing, this is the perfect time to hit
the slopes, since they will be relatively empty. Try fitting in some mountain
time toward the end of the festival, when things have calmed down. Park City
Mountain Resort
( is the most convenient option, since you
can ski right down to Main Street, but it’s Canyons ( that will
be buzzing, with its 300-plus acres of new terrain and a new high-speed quad
lift with enclosed canopies and heated seats. Snowbasin Resort (,
located 50 minutes north of Park City, is another solid option; it has a
fantastic lodge that was built for the 2002 Olympics, when it hosted men’s and
women’s downhill events.

The Best Parties

For the past few years, Las Vegas nightclub TAO has taken up
residency at The Lift, hosting celebrity-packed parties, and actor Danny
Masterson’s Main Street club, Downstairs (, is sure to do the
same (DJ Paul Oakenfold played in 2009). Most of the industry parties are held
at The Yard ( and The Sky Lodge ( and tend
to die down early.

Apps to Get You in and Around

Sundance Film Festival 2011: The festival’s official
app lets you search for films by title, category, date, location or director.
This year, it’s available on the Android and the iPhone.

Gowalla: The location-based social network has teamed
up with the festival by creating special-edition stamps for your Gowalla
Passport that users can earn by checking in at locations around Park City and
during film premieres. There’s also an email digest called “Your Day at
Sundance Film Festival,” which showcases everything you’ve done.

Ski Utah Snow Report: In case there is time left in
the day to hit the slopes, this app has high-res trail maps and detailed
weather reports. There is even a “powder alarm clock,” so you’ll never miss the
freshest snow.