PARK CITY — Do you ski? Do you snowboard? Do you like to huddle over a tiny hole cut in the ice of a frozen lake and wait for the telltale tug of a fish bite?
If your answer is yes to any of those questions, congratulations. Because the rest of us are doing our best to make it through the worst month of the year.
I’d feel bad for January if I were in the habit of personifying arbitrary designations of time and space. January is what December would be if it had to take off its Christmas disguise.
If January were a food, it would be fruitcake — fruitcake that tastes like phlegm. If it were a meme, it would be that kid with the braces, red plaid vest and freckles who never gets anything right. If you could put inversion on a flag, that would be January’s flag.
January is the kind of month that makes you wish hibernation was a legitimate option. It would be the perfect month for going to the theater and watching movies, but if a movie comes out in January, there’s an 80 percent chance it will be terrible. The good stuff either came out at Christmas or is being held back for spring. And spring never feels farther away than it does in January.
Thank goodness, then, for the Sundance Film Festival. For a dozen or so days every winter, movie fans in Utah can forget that the air is trying to kill them. While the rest of the world gets by on cinematic table scraps, we get a sneak preview of the best of the year to come.
Sundance might just be the best thing about January.
During Sundance, that older gentleman in the produce section who looks a little like Sir Patrick Stewart has a pretty good chance of actually being Sir Patrick Stewart!
During Sundance, you have an excuse to spend time in Park City, which has breathable air and one of my favorite Mexican restaurants.
During Sundance, you can see compelling documentaries, which will give you lots of sophisticated conversation-starters for parties and customer service lines at department stores.
During Sundance, you can enjoy the cozy psychological satisfaction of supporting independent film, knowing full well that for the rest of the year you will mostly be watching Marvel movies and YouTube videos about Marvel movies.
During Sundance, you can help boost the local economy. Last year’s festival had a reported $191 million dollar impact on the Beehive State. That’s six bottles of Hires fry sauce for every Utah resident, or if like me, you don’t like fry sauce, you could book 479,000 performances from Salt Lake area Elvis impersonator Bob Shorten!
During Sundance, you get to toss off the bitter cold and enjoy the warm embrace of nostalgia as you relive the good old days when you had to stand in really long lines before getting into a movie!
OK, I guess that last one isn’t really a good thing.
To be fair, Sundance can be a pretty hit-and-miss venture, with as many cons as pros. After six years of coverage, I’m still torn by Utah’s most famous film festival.
But look out the window and consider the alternative. Without Sundance, January is just a month to get through, a month to survive. With Sundance, January has at least one thing we can all look forward to.
Unless you ski. Maybe we should just ski. Does Sir Patrick Stewart ski?