Sundance is one of the few constants in my life. Every year I go with the same friends, to the same condo, and watch a relentless amount of movies. And despite the hundreds of movies over the years, the luster of sitting in a cramped theater and leaving the left side of my brain for the right, has never worn off.
And yet this year I’ve seen the other side of the film festival: a commercialism and cynicism that underpins everything. It’s not Sundance’s fault. It’s not a slow creeping change. It’s the reason these festivals exist in the first place. Over the years I’ve accumulated a number of friends in the entertainment industry. And every year more invites come in, more events open up: IMDB lounge, AirBnB house, Kickstarter parties, Chase Sapphire Event Center, Acura parties, Samsung parties, VR parties, Variety/Fandango/Dockers Studio. Company signs plastered over the already obnoxious establishments. IMDB is Tao, which used to cost $16,000 for a table before IMDB booked it out. In what world can that make sense?
But nothing it does is wrong. It simply is. It’s SXSW, it’s CES. It’s all of the events that people like me flock to, and talk about with friends as we spontaneously shop for 3D printers at 1 am.
And so I’ll keep coming every year. I’ll skip the opening weekend. That’s an assault on the senses that even I can’t handle. But I’ll stay for the following week. And I’ll go to the parties, and continue to spend time with people that have been here for 5 days, but have neither skied not watched a movie. Because that’s what we do. And now anything familiar brings a comfort that is harder and harder to replicate.