Catching Shuttles is Like Running with the Bulls

In my past Sundance life, I was granted accreditation and my work as a writer was much easier as the films I missed with audiences I was able to catch up on the Press & Industry screening schedule. That changed in Sundance Twentyten. Since then there’s been a vigorous curtailment of press and media accreditation. So be it. I’m up for the challenge and prefer seeing films with the audience because you can guage their reaction followed by an opportunity for a Q&A afterwards with the filmmakers. So, I do the waitlist dance or run. Always running.

The idea is to get to the venue two hours ahead, get a Waitlist number, then you can come back before the screening and be on the line for the tickets that have been released. The key here is to be back 30 minutes before the film start time. Otherwise, kiss your Waitlist number goodbye because they cannot hold your place on line unless you are there within those thirty golden minutes. Of course, it’s explained after you come five minutes late and there are at least fifteen people ahead of your Waitlist number.

It’s all relative, but two hours can be a long time hanging around a hotel lobby. I wanted to see Payback, a documentary adaptation of renowned author, Margaret Atwood by equally renowned documentarian, Jennifer Baichwal. At 4 p.m. Waitlist numbers were released and I got lucky 13. Now to get back from Yarrow Hotel to Main Street and meet up with a filmmaker friend that has been already running about seeing films across the venue universe. The trick is to get the right shuttle and not take the Loop around Eccles before getting to Main Street. Might as well be walking. My friend Kimberly and I started in the right direction then unsure of the shuttle route, backtracked to Festival Headquarters. There were two shuttle buses idling and ready to go. We started running. Jumping on the shuttle that would make its way the quickest to Main Street, we wound up on another loop though another neighborhood and wound right back where we started walking. Oh well.

Back on Main Street, the crowds swelled along the sidewalks and activity increased for the 4-6 p.m. “Apres Film Screening” Happy Hour break before the evening timeslots. Waiting to be admitted to the Sundance Channel headquarters, we heard the Robert Redford had just left. Yes, Redford. Whenever I talk about my time at Sundance, inevitably I’m asked, “Did you see Robert Redford?” Well, yes, once. Maybe. No matter, it’s still Redford.

It’s 5:08. Playing telephone tag, we missed finding our friend and I had to get back to my Waitlist line. The shuttles lined up at the Main Street stop and were all Express going to the Redstone venue. Kimball Junction or Deer Valley. Thank goodness the transit volunteers are back in force giving advice on which shuttle to take to make your screening. We were advised that if we didn’t mind walking two blocks we could take the shuttle across from where were standing that will drop us off at the Rite Aid behind the Yarrow Hotel. Awesome. We are running.

Time check 5:28, barely enough time to make it to the rest room before facing whatever line might come. At 6:34, I rushed through the maze of tented walkways only to find at least fifteen people ahead of my waitlist number. Past the 30 minute rule. Oh, well. Tough break those are the rules. The volunteers sympathetic offered their optimism and fortunately for me, the Cash Only sign steered away a few filmgoers to find an ATM or a friend to pony up the cash. The line moved quickly and I’m in. Almost full, I find a seat and sink in with a sigh of relief. Lights go down and the screening begins.