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Departures' Guide to the 2011 Sundance Film Festival

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

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Every January, the streets of Park City, Utah, fill withactors, 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 andnearly 200 independent films. Those in the know find their way around a scenethat, to the novice, can quickly become frustrating: sold-out showings, fullybooked restaurants and guest-list-only parties. Here, a guide to Main Streetand beyond.

Film Screenings

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

Where to Stay

This year will be all about Deer Valley, with the year-oldSt. Regis (from $975; and the month-old Montage (completely booked at press time; holding court in the ski-only resort. Even if you don’tbook a room, make sure to check them out; the St. Regis’s Remède Spa will offerIntraceuticals Infusion facials (from $195) and oxygen inhalations (from $30),great for beating the altitude and jet lag (and late nights out), while the Montagewill host Sundance’s opening dinner. At the Canyons resort, theyear-and-a-half-old Waldorf Astoria (from $1,720 for a two-bedroom suite; hasa 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 CityMountain Resort, but large groups would do well with a Park City rental fromIdentity 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 MainStreet, since most industry dinners are held there. A see-and-be-seenalternative is Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s J&G Grill at the St. Regis(dinner, $50;, which serves locally sourced dishes likeparmesean-crusted Niman Ranch poulet rouge. For something more low-key, trySquatters Roadhouse Grill (dinner, $30; for burgers or brunch,or El Chubasco (dinner, $15;, which supplies the Los Angelescontingency with a salsa bar and stellar fish tacos. If you do feel likebraving the Main Street madness, always try to make a reservation (but plan onwaiting regardless). Some standouts are Reef’s Restaurant (dinner, $40;, which serves fresh Mediterranean fare, and the year-oldHigh West Distillery & Saloon (dinner, $45;, which happens tobe the world’s only ski-in gastro-distillery (it currently produces small-batchvodkas and whiskeys). And Deer Valley club Talisker recently debuted its firstrestaurant open to the public, Talisker on Main (dinner, $65;, serving haute comfort food like buttermilk-fried chickenand short-rib shepherd’s pie.


It’s True—No One Ever Skis

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

The Best Parties

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

Apps to Get You in and Around

Sundance Film Festival 2011: The festival’s officialapp 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 teamedup with the festival by creating special-edition stamps for your GowallaPassport that users can earn by checking in at locations around Park City andduring film premieres. There’s also an email digest called “Your Day atSundance Film Festival,” which showcases everything you’ve done.

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


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