The Sundance Film Festival opens tomorrow in Park City, but before that a couple hundred of us are about twenty minutes away at a conference of arthouse theater owners and film organization.
Welcoming attendees last night, fest director John Cooper advised festival-goers to be ready for what could be the largest influx of attendees ever. Up to 60,000 people are expected to descend on Park City, Cooper said, in a year when the event has lost one of its largest screening venues, The Racquet Club. Planners have had a rush of last minute registrants. To pick up the slack, organizers have moved more screenings to the Redstone Theaters near the highway in Kimball Junction. But, Cooper said he's miffed about the boost in ambush marketers with their sights set on Sundance this year. He called them, "riff-raff."
"I just hope Paris Hilton isn't coming," he laughed.
Sundance's Arthouse Project began a few years ago with just 22 people in a room talking about the challenges facing their futures. Now, with hundreds gathering for a three day conference, leaders have bigger goals and are making plans to collaborate and expand. Arthouse owners realize that even with the growing shift to digital distribution for indie and art films, many still crave a theatrical experience.
"Arthouses are where the dreams of the filmmaker are really fulfilled," John Cooper reminded, "Just like libraries and museums, the arthouse needs to be celebrated within a community."
photo of the egyptian theater in park city, 2008.