By Bill Blizek
William Blizek is a professor of philosophy and religion at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the founding editor of the “Journal of Religion & Film.”
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Our flight to Salt Lake City was uneventful, so we are off to a good start.
This has not always been the case: One year our flight was canceled and we had to fly from Omaha to Chicago, Chicago to Los Angeles, and then LA to SLC. What should have been a quick two and one half hour jaunt turned into a 12-hour odyssey.
Today, the mountains are covered with snow, but the streets are clear and the sun is shining — ideal conditions for traipsing around Park City, Utah, from venue to venue. By the time you get to Park City, you can already feel the dry air — you are thirsty all of the time — and you can feel the altitude — you're huffing and puffing when you wouldn't ordinarily do so.
From our condo we immediately went to the Sundance Press Office to get our press credentials. One of the two managers of the press office is from Omaha. Elizabeth “Lizzy” Latenser is in her second year of managing the Sundance Press Office and graduated from Creighton University, where she studied journalism. The press office handles approximately 2,000 journalists from around the world, so it's a huge job.
The office not only determines who gets credentials, but they also make arrangements for interviews, special screenings, and press/industry contacts. The press office always has been a great help to us as we cover the festival.
After we received our credentials, we headed to the Baja Cantina for our traditional first-night dinner. The food is great, but we go for the Gand Mulege dessert, which consists of bananas baked in brandy, orange liquour, brown sugar and butter. The bananas are then covered with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and sliced almonds. It's the best dessert ever. When you're done, you have put on 8 pounds and your blood alcohol level is too high to drive.
After dinner, we took the bus up to Main Street for our traditional walk up and down the street. Main Street is filled with restaurants, bars, shops and galleries.
Any vacant location is rented for Sundance by people who want to promote one item or another. Nebraska native and legendary nature photographer, Tom Manglesen, has a gallery on Main Street. His most famous picture may be of the polar bears, called “Bad Boys of the Arctic.”
After our traditional walk, we headed home. We will begin to see movies and hit the red carpet on Friday.
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Bill Blizek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.