40 Years of Volunteers: Meet Festival Volunteer Michael Grant   

Dedicated volunteers from across the country have generously devoted their time and commitment to the Sundance Film Festival over the last 40 years. Now, as we gear up for the 2024 Festival, we’re putting the spotlight on them with our volunteer questionnaire. Because, like our volunteers, each memory is special and unique. 

Michael Grant has had quite an experience volunteering at the Sundance Film Festival. Going on his 18th year, Grant travels from his hometown of Stamford, Connecticut, to dive headfirst into the magic that takes place in Utah each January. For Grant, it’s all about the films, the people, and giving something back. 

Having been a part of the theater operations and transportation teams, Grant certainly knows his way around the mountain. He even offers tips for new volunteers, like where not to park, necessities to pack for the trip to Utah, and how to address conflict. 

“Get warmer socks, more comfortable shoes, and electrolyte tabs. Don’t drink a full bottle of anything before going into a two-hour film,” he says. 

Below, discover Grant’s most cherished memories as a volunteer, from being a witness at a spontaneous wedding to bunking with a complete stranger who is now a lifelong friend. 

Describe your first time volunteering. What did it feel like stepping into that role?

Putting on the jacket for the first time was an oddly powerful feeling! You get instant respect and appreciation, and you feel like an important cog in one of the world’s finest machines whose purpose is to create and disseminate art!

What compels you to continue volunteering year after year?

Jon Galt and Michael Grant at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival

The films are inspiring, the community is gracious, and the friendships are indelible. 

Which has been your favorite Sundance Film Festival to volunteer at? Why?

Impossible question. That’s like opening the refrigerator and asking which is your favorite shelf! You take something from all of them to create the delicious collective memory of Sundance.

Tell us one of your favorite memories volunteering at Sundance.

I’ve shared this before, but it remains one of my favorites. My husband and I had a day off from volunteering and we were getting ready to run around watching films when our theater manager, who was also a dear friend, called to request an important favor. She said she needed us for a special project and that her boyfriend was coming to pick us up. She also added that we should wear something nice. We soon found ourselves at the Temple Theater, where they were spontaneously getting married! And we were the witnesses! 

Michael Bodor and Ijulle Hausvater’s wedding at Temple Theater

It was a beautiful ceremony, and we were obviously thrilled to be a part of it, but I couldn’t help but think how neat it was that on the other side of the sanctuary wall, there was a great film playing to a sold-out crowd. The audience had absolutely no idea we were there while this beautiful couple was exchanging vows. And then, the very moment the Rabbi announced, “You may kiss the bride,” the audience erupted in applause for the movie! The timing could not have been more perfect. The conclusion of a brilliant film started the celebration for our friends and their wonderful life together. I can’t imagine anything like that happening again or anywhere except Sundance.

 What do you think the best part about being a Sundance Film Festival volunteer is?

Sundance is always a new adventure because the films, audiences, and filmmakers always vary. The constant is the volunteers. We remain, year after year, and we love it. One of the best parts is the continuity.


Can you tell us about some of the friendships you’ve made at Sundance over the years?

We gave a total stranger our spare room once. Risky, perhaps, but his Craigslist plea was articulate, and we did our best to vet him. Sure enough, we became fast friends. On our advice and urging, he volunteered the following year (and many subsequent years), and during the digital COVID-19 season, we all rented a place together in Park City and hunkered down in front of the massive TV to enjoy the films. We even went to his wedding!

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned after volunteering at the Sundance Film Festival for so many years?

You can diffuse nearly all tense situations if you exhale, smile sincerely, and ask how you can help. And never park at Fresh Market if you’re seeing a film. Even with a receipt, they’ll tow you after 30 minutes.

What’s your favorite movie to come out of Sundance?

Happy Endings by Don Roos. No idea why that one stays with me.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a first-time volunteer at the Festival?

You don’t need a car, but you will need Uber or Lyft for airports, late nights, or early morning shifts.

What does Sundance mean to you? 

Film Camp! Friends! Fun! Swag! Sleep when you’re dead!

Michael Grant and Jon Galt at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival

Check back regularly for more volunteer stories leading up to the Festival this January. And if you’re interested in joining the team, check out our volunteer opportunities here.  

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