Swag suites abound at the Sundance Film Festival

By Sandy Cohen

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Jan. 20 2012 11:15 p.m. MST

Guests relax at the Bertolli Meal Soup Chalet in Park City, Utah on Friday, Jan. 20, 2012.

Sarah Hummert, Associated Press

PARK CITY, Utah — Where there are celebrities, there is swag, and the Sundance Film Festival is no exception. Nearly a dozen gift suites opened their doors Friday afternoon along the city's Main Street.

Kate Bosworth, Andy Samberg, Emma Roberts and Rashida Jones are among the famous folks who stopped by the VEVO PowerStation SOREL Suite, where they could indulge in moisturizing facials and lip treatments from Fresh cosmetics and outfit their feet in snow-ready footwear.

"I think we belong here," said Kimberly Barta, global brand director for SOREL snow boots. "It just makes sense."

The company is also offering a 24-hour concierge service that will deliver boots around the clock to stars who can't stop by the suite.

At the Alive Expo Green Pavilion, guests could pick up natural skincare products and handmade handbags by Kenyan artisans from Tembo Trading Co.

The Bertolli Meal Soup Chalet served up bowls of hot soup and handed out sunglasses and Lumene skincare products to visitors. Joe Pastorkovich of Lumene said Sundance is the perfect place to introduce the European brand to an American audience.

"We're expanding into the U.S., and our brand connects well to Park City," he said. "It's a good fit because of the naturalness of the product, and we're unpretentious. This festival is about independent film, and we're an independent brand."

Italian shoe company Carlo Pazolini also exhibited (and gifted) its wares at the Sundance fest as a means of expanding its market reach.

"We're a European company launching in the U.S., so we wanted to get our name out there," company executive Jennifer Damiano said from the Miami Oasis suite, where she gave away high-end leather shoes and handbags. Guests at the suite were also treated to gluten-free snacks, hair styling by got2B, and cocktails from DiSaronno and Patron.

The Miami Oasis is just one part of the brand-heavy T-Mobile Village at the Lift, which includes McDonald's McCafe Lounge, the Puma Social Lounge and a temporary Tao nightclub.

Actress Blythe Danner stopped by the Fender Music Lodge, which offered live music and swag including Bear Paw boots and Park Lane jewelry.

Sundance sponsors HP, Acura, Chase Sapphire and the Sundance Channel also hosted suites along Main Street.

Alex Wilson, who produced the VEVO suite, said brands love Sundance because of the concentrated star power and media presence.

"In one location for five days, you can't get any bigger as far as names and exposure," he said. "With the heat of Park City, word travels fast."

And the number of branded suites keeps growing, too, much to the chagrin of Sundance Institute founder Robert Redford. He lamented that the success of the festival has attracted what he calls "leveragers" who muddle its mission of nurturing and celebrating independent film.

"They come in with their own agendas to use the festival to piggyback their agendas," he said. "It's a free country and there's nothing we can do about that ... but we have to work harder and harder to point to the fact that this is about the filmmakers. This is about their work and showing their work to you."

Many of the gift suites will close by Monday. The Sundance Film Festival continues through Jan. 29.

AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen is on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/APSandy .

Online:

http://www.sundance.org/festival

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