Sundance makes a splash in Ogden

Wednesday , January 13, 2016 - 3:34 PM

Standard-Examiner correspondent

OGDEN – Sundance’s Ogden lineup may not start until Jan. 23, but locals and film lovers are already thinking about the festival that will show a large variety of films at Peery’s Egyptian Theater, 2415 Washington Blvd.

Ross Reeder, marketing director for the theater, said the effects of the Sundance Film Festival in Ogden are far reaching and positive. He remembers being at a recent trade show with the likes of venue owners from the Super Bowl, and when he said he was from the Egyptian Theater in Ogden, a large Sundance venue, a collective impressive gasp went around the room.

“People were talking to me afterwards and asking me all about having Sundance in Ogden,” Reeder said. “So it is a big deal,” he said.

RELATED: How to choose: A guide to films playing Sundance Film Festival in Ogden

The Sundance Film Festival runs Jan. 21-31 in Park City, and screens 13 films at the Ogden theater. 

Peery’s Egyptian Theater is the third largest Sundance venue behind the Eccles Theatre in Park City and the Grand Theatre in Salt Lake City. Reeder admitted he was a little nervous when the Grand Theatre was added to the venue list last year, but that hasn’t made any kind of a dent in the films being shown in Ogden.

One of the unique parts of the Egyptian venue is the old Wurlitzer organ that is played before each show.

“It is so unique to Ogden and people love it,” Reeder said. People cheer as renowned organists who are brought in are lowered down below the stage while they play just before the film starts.

Matt Choberka, chairman of the Department of Visual Art and Design at Weber State University, said it is an ultimate treat to have Sundance in Ogden. In the 10 years he has been at WSU, he has noticed it is a reunion of sorts for WSU people to reconnect.

“There are a lot of film lovers in this town,” Choberka said. He has loved to watch as some of the Park City people come to Ogden to watch the shows and at first it might have seemed like a “duty,” but once they arrive they see what a charming town Ogden is. He said they also seem to fall in love with the beautiful Egyptian venue.

“I have never had anyone not say something incredibly nice about Ogden and what a great venue it is,” Choberka said.

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Both Choberka and Reeder encourage locals to get tickets and go see the shows. “You never know what surprises you may get,” Choberka said.

“People think that here are never any stars of the films in Ogden, but they may be surprised, because sometimes they are there,” Reeder said. The question and answer sessions after the films with either stars, directors or producers are some of the best parts of the experience, both Choberka and Reeder said.

Ryan McDonald is a local independent filmmaker and also sits on the Egyptian Theatre Foundation board.

“There are always some little gems at Sundance and you just never know unless you check it out,” McDonald said.

As an indie filmmaker, McDonald likes having Sundance here because there is always something to aim for.

“People ask if you are taking your film to Sundance and of course you are. It is here. It is local. And it is big,” McDonald said.

He also loves the question and answer sessions after the films and gets a lot of good ideas and information there. “Those are the most memorable experiences for me,” McDonald said.

And as for Ogden itself, it is a boon, Reeder said. The Sundance Film Festival helps put Ogden on the map and tells people all over what Ogdenites already know — Ogden is a unique and charming town. Some businesses often host events around Sundance also.

But Reeder strongly suggests that people not assume shows are sold out and should try to get tickets.

“We want to fill those seats, so don’t hesitate,” he said.

Tickets for Utah residents only are available on the Sundance Institute’s website from 10 a.m. Jan. 14 to 4 p.m. Jan. 15. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the box office in Ogden from noon to 6:30 p.m. Jan. 19 through Jan. 30.

For more details on purchases or more information on the festival, visit


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