Utah, in the western USA, has around 2.5 million residents, most of whom live in an urban concentration around its capital, Salt Lake City. A vast expanse of the state is uninhabited. Its name comes from the Ute Indian language, meaning ''people of the mountains'', and it is a place of great geological diversity, ranging from snow-capped mountains to well-watered river valleys and rugged, stony deserts.
Utah is one of the most religiously homogenous states, with around 61 percent of its people being members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons. Their numbers greatly influence Utah's culture and daily life. An hour from Salt Lake City is Park City. Its turn-of-the-century character is a reminder of the town's silver-mining days. The main street has 64 Victorian buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Park City comes to life for 11 days on the third Thursday every January. The Sundance Film Festival increases the town's population of 8000 to 20,000 for the United States' largest independent cinema festival. The belief that Utah is a dry state is disproven during this period. During Sundance, streets are packed with revellers going from restaurant to bar, all looking for the next party.
The festival began in 1978 in an effort to attract more filmmakers to make independent films, away from the Hollywood system. Robert Redford was one of three foundation members who concentrated on a series of retrospective films and held discussions, as well as showing a small program of independently made films.
It now showcases American and international dramatic and documentary films on a grand scale. Over the decades the venue, intended for small-budget, independent creators from outside Hollywood, has attracted celebrity actors, directors, media, paparazzi, star stalkers and luxury goods companies. The festival is striving to distance itself from these distractions and this year's message was ''Focus on film''.
If you fancy being part of the throng, you will need to get in early. Don't forget to pack your warmest clothing and you might as well get some skiing in while you're there!
By the way, if you want to dine at Robert Redford's restaurant, ZOOM, you will need to book early.
Utah in the western USA
Sundance Film Festival individual wait-list tickets start at $10 and packages range from $300 to $700. Express passes for the 2008 Festival started at $2500. Passes include festival credential, access to Music Café, Filmmaker Lodge Panels, New Frontier on Main and other venues and events.
The 27th Sundance Film Festival will run between January 15-25, 2009.
Air New Zealand has flights to Los Angeles.
|FROM ||ONE-WAY FARE|
| Sydney ||$1896|
| Melbourne ||$1978|
| Brisbane ||$1988|
| Adelaide ||$2196|
| Perth ||$2179|
Valid for travel until March 31, 2008, and between November 1 and December 9, 2008.Connections to Salt Lake City are available. Prices correct at March 6, 2008.
For further information:
660 Main Street
Park City, UT 84060
Ph: +1 435 649 9108
Air New Zealand
Ph: 132 476
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