As a first timer at the Sundance Film Festival, I must make several observations about the festival in comparison with other similar events that I have attended in the past few years (most notably Festival de Cannes).
1. The organisation of the festival struck me as absolutely brilliantly planned and executed. As the main venues were spread across Park City the shuttle buses were provided as a form of free transportation for the movie goers. The buses were running every 5-10 minutes, (apart from one day when the city was snowed in and I had to actually wait for the bus around 15 mins. scandalous, right?) the system that the festival has in place worked top notch. Although I do admit I'd rather want the venues within walking distance, but then the unusual location and set up of the festival is partially responsible for its charming atmosphere.
2. Programming of the festival - the programmers of the festival really know their craft; there were multiple screenings of the most interesting positions and one could always plan the festival in a way to watch 90% of the films that they were interested in.
3. Access to the screenings/ size of the venues - I bought a number of tickets through my purchase time slot, as I was a bit scared that once a screening was sold out on the website there might be no chance of getting into some of the films. I couldn't be more wrong. As was proven time and time again, there were always tickets available to the screenings; one only had to be a bit assertive in finding them. There are two ways to go about this: the first one is really conventional and requires good organisational skills. You must show up at the venue 2 hours before the screening to acquire a waiting list queue number and then come back at least 30 mins before the film to stand in line on a standby basis. The other way, which proves to be much quicker, more productive and fun is rather spontaneous. You show up at the venue any time before the film is due to start and ask people who are attending the screening if they have any extra tickets that they would wish to give away or sell. It is recommended to bring a sign indicating that you require tickets for the screening - it will save you a lot of talking and make you visible to anyone who wants to share their tickets. Out of 20 screenings I have attempted to get into, there was only one that I didn't get tickets for, and 4 of them I got into for free. Brilliant fun!
4. The films are what the festival is really about - even though the festival itself was truly a unique experience, the films unfortunately turned out to be a huge disappointment. After last year's brilliant films showcased at Sundance including ‘I Am Love' and 'Exit Through The Gift Shop', this year's line up certainly had a lot to live up to. Out of the 19 films that I watched, only two or three made a positive impression on me - the rest turned out to be either mediocre or simply unwatchable. But more about this later.