January 18th, 2009
03:34 PM ET

Obama trumps Sundance

The atmosphere at Sundance this year seems more subdued than normal. Not somber, just a little less feverish than usual. I think all the excitement over the inauguration of a new president has taken some of the wind out of the sails of festival-goers. The Hollywood types who come here are used to being the center of the universe—or feeling like they are. But they’re playing second fiddle to Barack Obama this time. It feels like a comeuppance of sorts.

The economy may be the other reason the festival seems less festive this year. Sundance veterans are all talking about how much quieter the town seems. The restaurants, usually packed to overflowing, have empty tables. You can get a cell signal here—usually there are so many industry-ites clogging the airwaves you can’t get a call out—your cell squawks “call failed” or “circuits busy” at every turn. But not this year.

Interestingly enough, festival founder Robert Redford is pleased with the decrease in traffic. At his opening day press conference he admitted he felt it was a good thing that fewer people are in town. He has long railed against celebrities who come to Park City to party and revel and could hardly be lured into a theater if their lives depended on it. Marketers set up “gifting suites” and “luxury lounges” to swag the stars (and attract the media). But there seems to be less of that going on this year. Or maybe the stars are just being more discreet—afraid to parade around with shopping bags stuffed with freebies in this period of hardship for ordinary folks.

Welcome to Sundance ’09 — maybe a place where, after all, film comes first.

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soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. John Molina

    Mr Kronmiller, as the Trotskyite Anglo-Pakistani writer, Tariq Ali said in a recent interview on Book-TV, "human rights" iin the United States is highly insturmentalized, and more so in Hollyweird. He noted how there have been more human rights violations in Kashmir as opposed to Tibet which in the past has been the Flavor of the Month Cause among Celebs. That's the problem with the Left in the United States. While we're criticizing Palin over innocuous traditional views as if they were some kind of direct threat to Democracy had she been elected, Hugo Chavez kicked out two Human Rights Watch employees. Where did I read this? It wasn't in The Nation, that bastion of social righteousness, rather it was in a Mexican left-wing daily, La Jornada! What does Mr. Sanctamonious Penn have to say about that??? Huh? So what's going to be the next Flavor of the Month issue, Mr Kronmiller? Prop 8 Revisted? I love movies but I LOATHE what Hollywood has morphed into.

    January 25, 2009 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Karen

    Why do some people think that EVERYTHING revolves around gay issues? Maybe people are at the inauguration...maybe some are cutting back on spending (if you put your head above the gay issues you might see the economy is struggling)...maybe movies have just gotten that uninteresting...move on, people.

    January 23, 2009 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  3. Andi

    Janet, I co-sign. Thank you and well said.

    January 23, 2009 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  4. Luke

    If you're going to boycott Utah because of Prop 8, then boycott talking about Utah; we're sick of your whining. Too bad the Oscars aren't in Utah so people could boycott that worthless parade of pablum.

    January 22, 2009 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. David P. Kronmiller

    Hey folks – can you quite down the stereo-typing and celebrity bashing. Someone on here asked what have they contributed to our nation – I would remind them to respectfully become aware of the celebrity involvement in the Darfur issue, in AIDS awareness and yes, many have served in the military or in other ways. To discount them because of their profession or because of statements of a few of them – is to be, in all fairness, unfair.

    Not to mention – I assume pretty much everyone commenting here likes to go see movies, watch television, read books, and listen to music – and if you can't see how that, in and of itself, is enough to contribue to this country then you're sadly ill informed – especially considering how much revenue the entertainment industry generates for this country – we are a significant portion of the GNP and create thousands of jobs ranging from crews, catering to theaters which all support local businesses.

    And now I step down off my soap box...

    January 22, 2009 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Janet

    If the inauguration trumped Sundance, we're headed in the right direction.
    For once something bigger than egos should matter.

    January 20, 2009 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Leslie

    I think everyone's in D.C.

    January 19, 2009 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  8. caseylane

    It may be that many gays are staying away because it's in Utah. I'm sure Robert Redford is happy but the local businesses aren't.

    January 19, 2009 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  9. Eric

    Excellent ending. It's great to see the festival get back to it's roots. Puts the term, "keepin' it real" into good use. Best of luck Mr. Redford.

    January 19, 2009 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
  10. ds george

    Perhaps the smaller crowds reflect a boycott of all things Utah in response to the huge financial support of Prop. 8 in CA by the Mormon Church. Or maybe the stars who normally attend don't want to be perceived as anti-gay by their friends, co-workers & fans.

    January 19, 2009 at 1:53 am | Report abuse |
  11. Buck

    Butch Cassidy always was a better man than the Sundance Kid.

    January 18, 2009 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. steve in kc

    Maybe they need a bailout???

    January 18, 2009 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Brad

    I'm glad. With Sundance being hosted in Utah, where Mormons poured their hate money into Prop 8 here in California... I'm glad that the nation's focus is instead on an individual that is committed to uniting the country and focused on rejection of hate and bigotry.

    January 18, 2009 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Woody Woodrow

    I think it is great that attendance is down. I am sick and tired of hearing about celebrities. What have they contributed to this great
    nation of ours? The vast majority bask in glorious excess and have
    done nothing to actually earn the privilage. How many have served
    their country in the Military or Peace Corps? The most these pampered babies do is talk politics. Being in politics is not the same
    as serving your country through the Peace Corps or Military. They have
    not defended this country. Or even offered. Their holyier than thou
    lip service needs to be clipped. Just do your job and shut the heck up.
    When you have earned the privilage, then you can speak up.

    January 18, 2009 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Irene

    Does anyone know if the concert will be shown on TV again tonigh? Thanks, I

    January 18, 2009 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  16. scott

    or maybe people are boycotting utah because of Prop 8, like they said they would do...

    January 18, 2009 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |

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