Flicks for Days: Visit to the Sundance Film Festival 2019 in Park City, Utah

Odometer (SLX):  178,483

It’s rare for me to get on a plane, but somehow I still find a way to get my dose of high-mileage even when I do.  My friend Matt picked me up from the Salt Lake City airport last Friday in a 333,000 mile Honda Pilot.  Now that’s my kind of shuttle.

Once a year, each January, a piece of the cinematic world descends upon and revolves around a small ski town about 30 miles east of Salt Lake City, Utah in the Wasatch Mountains.  The main street of Park City Utah bustles with celebrities, media, and film-goers as over 100 independent films are shown over the course of a 10-day festival.

The Sundance Film Festival is the largest independent film festival in the United States.  It draws nearly 50,000 attendees per year and has been around for over 40 years now.  Acura came into the picture in 2010 as a major sponsor along with Chase Sapphire, YouTube, Stella Artois, and other companies.  This year, I scored myself a media credential to attend the festivities as a journalist.

In all, I spent 2 full days in northern Utah being a part of some of the events – and action-packed they were!  My seatmate on Friday afternoon’s 90-minute flight from Phoenix to Salt Lake was working on a film script via laptop computer.  I made it to SLC that evening in time for a reunion with AcuraConnected‘s Chris Tobias as well as a local friend named Shaun.  Another friend, Chandler, flew in later that night.

Our day on Saturday morning started out with an ascent up Parley’s Canyon on Interstate 80 in Shaun’s RDX.  The traffic approaching Park City – a place accustomed to a mere 9,000 resident population – was heavy, and we knew it would be.  The hub for press credentialing was the Marriott hotel on Sidewinder, so we checked in there briefly before making our way to Main Street.

Park City’s beginnings started as a silver mining boomtown in the 1800s, but today the community thrives thanks to its ski industry and year-round recreation.  Most of the infrastructure along Main – and other adjacent streets – is completely overtaken for Sundance.  Entire art galleries are cleared out and every inch of square footage is replaced with hospitality venues for the thousands of people who will come pouring in.

The Acura Festival Village – a large but temporary set-up – was comprised of a few tent-like structures, a public bathroom, and a trailer where interviews & panels were being held.  On display out front were 5 Acura models including the NSX, MDX, RDX, TLX, and ILX (the latter 4 in A-Spec trim).  Chris, Chandler, and I had omelets at The Bridge Cafe to fuel ourselves up for a busy day before making the rounds.

Luckily for me, I had my heaviest winter coat and some well-insulated shoes, because despite the fact that the sun was shining, our max temperature for the day didn’t go beyond freezing.  A helpful reprieve was the “hot beverage” bar at the Acura village, where I picked up a cocoa and we participated in a photo booth & interacted with a few friends from the Acura leadership team.

The Egyptian Theater nearby, completed in 1926, had a crowd & line out its doors for the entire day.  A variety of other theaters throughout the Park City area were also bustling with similar activities.  Our press credentials gave us access to a balcony-level view of Main Street at one of the venues where we hung out and enjoyed the scenery.

We took a break from the epicenter of activity to catch an Uber over to the Utah Olympic Park.  It was built between 1991 and 1997 and later hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics.  It features a ski jump, bobsled track, and other infrastructure that supported the Olympic activities of 17 years ago.  Salt Lake City, by the way, is in the running for the 2030 Olympics too, so all that equipment may get used again.

Another destination on our list for the day was a high-end resort nestled high up a mountain road called the St. Regis at Deer Valley.  Standard room rates there start at around $700 per night.  On the plus side, the hotel does have a free cocoa & s’more bar in the main lobby.  I fixed a tasty hot chocolate complete with chocolate bits, marshmallows, and whipped cream to sip on while we enjoyed the sunset from the lounge.  I don’t know if the pool was heated, but it sure looked inviting.

Here’s where our logistics took a little snag:  An incoming Uber from Park City that was supposed to arrive in 6 minutes was seemingly stuck, and 20 minutes later, we decided to abandon wheeled transportation altogether and walk the mile and a half downhill on a snowy sidewalk.  It was actually not all that bad.

Our arrival back on Main was just in time for a somewhat comical attempt to find dinner.  We approached six different restaurants about our wishes to get a bite to eat.  One told us there was a 3-hour wait, and a few told us we were simply out of luck unless we had a reservation.  Finally, we happened across “Flying Sumo” which seated us in about 45 minutes and served up a tasty plate of teriyaki salmon.

We spent the evening back at the Acura Festival Village for a party hosted in conjunction with IMDb and 3 cast members from the Showtime series “Shameless.”   It was a rockin’ event, complete with energetic DJ’d music on the patio, beverages from Stella Artois, and a swag bag for every attendee.  Chandler got a little star-struck when he saw Shanola Hampton, who plays Veronica Fisher (“V”) in Shameless.  He was able to get a selfie with her.

The night grew late and we’d spent a full day on our feet, so we summoned a Lyft and made the descent back to Salt Lake for the evening.  It was a memorable way to spend the day.  On Sunday, I connected with family and friends in the Salt Lake area, and on Sunday I spent about 12 hours driving my dad’s MDX about 720 miles home to Phoenix.

There’s only one problem with all of this:  I went to a film festival and didn’t see a single film.  All the more reason to go back next year and experience it for a little more time!  Thanks for reading, and enjoy the short video & additional pics below!

“Little America” hotel in Salt Lake City

Acura Festival Village lineup with a stunning Still Night Pearl MDX A-Spec on the end

Photo from the “Winter Wonderland” photo booth

I scored tickets to a film!  Sadly, we didn’t have time to get there before it started.

New ILX A-Spec with sport underbody kit in the distance, and of course a Thermal Orange NSX

Group shot at the “Shameless” party later in the evening

The only skiing I did was on this fake billboard!

Sunday morning meet-up with Sunny and his 2014 TSX Special Edition

And then Ryan in his 128i

And Jason in his Civic Si

And Nate in his Tacoma

Ryan and I met up with friends and family members at “Legends” Pub & Grill

Dad & stepmom came to join the party, too

 

8 Responses to “Flicks for Days: Visit to the Sundance Film Festival 2019 in Park City, Utah”

  1. Wow. I’ve heard of the St Regis chain but had no idea they were THAT expensive!

    I’d rather have Acura time instead of watching movies too.

    • Haha, well a lot of these films were full-length. I wanted to spend most of my day exploring and celeb-watching rather than inside a theater. But what I really needed was a Day 2 to dedicate to the “actual” purpose of the festival.

  2. Talk about an awesome place to visit- Sundance is definitely getting moved to my “must see” list. Very cool overview of the festival – although next time you’ve GOT to get to at least one film!

    Cool collection of rides in this post. The 333k Pilot is par for the course for the first gen of that vehicle – I think Honda did a great job engineering them, there are so many on the road still, and they all seem to have no problems rolling big mileage (see also: 3G Odyssey, 1G MDX, and 1G Ridgeline). There’s a thread over on the Piloteers forum for high mileage owners, and some of the numbers are pretty impressive. Your friend’s 1G RDX looks like it is in really good shape, too. I’ve always liked that body style (I have a hard time telling later gen RDXs from the MDX – the 1G was unique), but so many of the ones around here are beaten up and not taken care of at all. Nice to see one kept in good order!

    • Yeah Shaun’s RDX is solid – around 116,000 miles as I recall. He tows a jet ski with it, and it’s very capable. Plus that AWD capability comes in handy in Salt Lake.

  3. Such a fun event. Looks like you had a blast and saw a ton of people. So jealous you went to the Shameless party. I love that show.

    • Which reminds me, I need to follow up with them. Chandler asked me to see if I could get ahold of one of the pillows with Shameless printed on it from the lounge area. It was a fun event, I just wish I’d actually taken the time to see a movie!

  4. Chris Miller Says:

    Did you get the Joker burger at Legends?

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