Kicking Off the Summer Film Series

Sundance Institute kicked off the Summer Film Series June 29-30 with Davis Guggenheim’s It Might Get Loud, an Official Selection of the 2009 Festival. The first free screening was held Wednesday evening at Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre, the prettiest outdoor screening location on the west coast (that’s right, I said it). Thursday evening the screening was at City Park in Park City, known to 2011 Festivalgoers as the location of New Frontier.

The first screening is always a stressful one, not only because it’s our first go of the season, but also because the weather likes to tease us. We were well prepared for the tech set up, as we did a test run the night before at Red Butte to make sure all was well. It was the weather earlier in the day that got everyone’s heart pumping. We were slammed with torrential downpour in Park City and strong winds that would surely rip a hole through our screen if it kept up. The nice thing about Utah summer storms and the late screening times, however, is that by 9 p.m. the clouds have passed and the hot air has settled. The result is a perfect atmosphere for an outdoor screening.

The gates didn’t open until 8 p.m., but we had a few people come in and put their blankets down at 6:30 p.m. They were an awfully eager group, and it’s a good thing they had the garden to walk through, as I was worried the sound check might scare them away. “Left, right, center, left surround, right surround,”  all rolling through the projector at the same time can drive a person crazy pretty quick. Around 7:45 p.m. the crowd started to pile in and take their seats with blankets and lawn chairs.

Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre. Photo by Jill Orschel.

Meredith Lavitt, Associate Director of the Institute’s Utah Community Programs, and Utah Advisory Board member Rory Murphy introduced the film and thanked our wonderful community supporters. A representative from Zion’s bank, Christie Richards, also cracked a joke about rock n’ rollers and bankers to get the crowd going. The reel started turning and the screening went off without a hitch. On screen, Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White mesmerized a crowd of 435 people. Not a bad way to kick off the season!

The next night in Park City was a little cool after the morning thunderstorms, prompting a few of us to sport our puffy jackets. This time around the audience numbers had us a little nervous. Right up through the end of the introduction we only had 75-100 people on the lawn to enjoy the film. One by one after the film started rolling, a person would come and take their seat on the grass and we eventually reached a total of 220 people.

Next up, on July 20-21 we will be showing The Music Never Stopped, Jim Kohlberg’s touching feature film from the 2011 Festival. For more information please visit,

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