Clark and Sarah thought they would find their Sundance inspiration in the movie seats, and sometimes we did. We also found a couple naps and some stale popcorn. What we didn't expect was to have a microcosm of the Sundance experience, night after night, at dinner tables around town. People think Sundance is about the films, and they are sort of right, but mostly wrong. Sundance is about the experience of being with people who are recognized for telling their own stories and who are celebrated for the things they are most passionate about. That's the gift of Sundance, and we saw it play out every night over shared meals.
Luckily there was plenty of dining to go around, thanks to a new(ish) trend at the festival, the Supper Club. Clark and Sarah attended at least four of these spreads prepared by famous chefs for the independent film glitterati. Our hands down "I would eat here every night" favorite was the Ford/SHFT/W Hotel event that focused on sustainability. Ironically, this was probably the one Sarah wanted to attend least. It was her last night of the Sundance marathon and the two block walk from the car mostly consisted of her using her butt as a sled. But that all changed about five minutes after walking through the doors.
Every detail of the event was thought provoking and considered, from the little recycled denim envelope her menu came in to the food. These details are important because they created a seamless experience that provoked conversation around sustainability at every turn. It also showcased the passions and commitments of the organizers. This wasn't just a case of a brand slapping its name on an event. There was a clear commitment on behalf of Ford towards creating sustainable products and changing consumer behaviors. We also saw this passion for a cause at the Elle/Lanmark/Moroccan Oil event, which used their dinner as an opportunity to put the spotlight on women in film. As Pat Mitchell, President and CEO of the Paley Center for Media, recently perfectly articulated, this is something we should all get behind.
Like the Ford/SHFT/W Hotel event, Sundance is a larger experience that is more than just the sum of its parts. Seen from the outside, Sundance is just a bunch of movies, some brands and the people who flock to this snowy Utah town. But when you put everything together, just as when you combine ordinary ingredients into your favorite dish, some alchemy takes place. People are better just for being here. Sundance creates a space that provokes conversations around important issues ranging from sustainability to how we reconcile the imperfections of the people we love.
We know we already gifted you some fantastic snow pants, but we'd like to give you one more thing before we go... a little piece of Sundance. In this often difficult, reality TV saturated, shitty economic time there are still places where thousands of people can come together to be inspired. If you peel back the glitz, over the top branding and weird A-list movie stars in leggings, one of those places is here.