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A&E Blog

Sundance 2011: Are You Experienced?

by Scott Renshaw
- Posted // 2011-01-20 - Every year, I arrive at the Sundance Film Festival hoping to report the experience to readers – even as I know that my festival experience resembles nothing that an average attendee would recognize.

That may seem self-evident, if only because there are so many different ways to be part of this mountain madhouse: the movie buffs, the party junkies, the industry hangers-on, the parasitic marketers and the slightly-less-parasitic media. I’ve happily spent 14 years coming here without ever once attending a Sundance party; it wouldn’t shock me if others have attended just as frequently without ever watching a movie.

But even beyond that, my festival moviegoing experience doesn’t remotely approximate that of a layperson. While press can and often do attend public screenings, I generally stick to the press screenings, where filmmakers and cast members never attend. Our screenings start pretty reliably on time, making scheduling far less complicated than for the public screenings where wait-list fill-ins send the start time creeping. And I pack five or six movies into a day, which would reasonably make a sane person wonder how one could even keep track of the titles, let alone nuances of artistry.

Such, though, is what it’s like for those who try to pack a year’s worth of movie-watching into 10 days. Starting tomorrow, it will be time to start processing all those movies, hoping to point potential viewers towards the best ways to spend the next few days, or what to watch for in theaters in a few months, or what to download from Netflix in a few years. It’s time for discovery, and perhaps that’s what makes my experience most like that of other viewers here: We’re all hoping to find something amazing, and feel the rush of sharing that discovery with others.

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