It's Locals vs. 'PIBs' at the Sundance Film Festival

Director Martin McDonagh

Director Martin McDonagh is among the throngs descending on Park City, Utah, for the 2008 Sundance Film Festival; his In Bruges is the festival's opening-night film. Bryan Bedder/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Let's say you live in Park City, Utah. Maybe you grew up there. Maybe you moved there a few years ago. Park City is a lovely place, a paradise for snow lovers.

And then, once a year, for 10 days, it turns into Cinema Camp. The Sundance Film Festival moves in, with its 122 films from 25 countries. In addition to the 51 new filmmakers and their retinues, every last industry anybody piles in: critics, producers, studio execs.

You call them PIBs — short for "People in Black" — and right now, the town is theirs. Host Alison Stewart has joined the Sundance infiltration, with help from member station KCPW. She reports that the streets of Park City are crowded and it's hard to get around.

Stewart and the video team are scouring the scene for scenes, covering the hopeful makers of short films like The Execution of Solomon Harris, the multimedia artists now included in Sundance and Mr. Sundance himself, festival founder Robert Redford.

At the opening day news conference, Redford tells reporters that what he loves about Sundance movies is the personal reflection on feelings of dismay — feelings he says have led to a resurgence of dark comedy in film.

"What do you do about a world condition that you have no way to get a grip on?" Redford asks. "How long can you sit here and be frustrated and despairing about 'you can't do anything about something'?"

For the frustrated residents of Park City, the answer turns out to be 10 days — the length of the festival — after which the fast-talking PIBs hit the road.

One patron of the No Name Saloon of Debauchery says he cruised through town Thursday to drop a buddy off on Main Street. Workers were setting up for Sundance, and a hardhat was crossing the street. The patron stopped for the pedestrian.

"Nobody in Park City honks their horn," he says. "Somebody was behind me honking their horn. Nobody does that — it's just not very polite in Park City. So I looked at the plates, and they were California plates, so I said, 'OK, no road rage here.' Road rage for us is just blazing down the mountain at 45 miles an hour and getting frostbite on our cheeks."

On our blog all week: Video reports from the Sundance Film Festival.

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