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No more Sundance? Maybe Ogden should shoot for Berlinale

By Mark Saal - | Jul 17, 2016

“It’s not you, it’s me.”

Wednesday, the Sundance Film Festival announced it was breaking up with Ogden and that it would no longer be screening films at Peery’s Egyptian Theater downtown. It’s hard not to feel rejected in this particular relationship.

The Sundance Institute announced the Ogden break-up in an email last Wednesday. An email, people. That’s about as cold as it gets, rivaling breaking up via social media (Hashtag: dumped).

MORE: Sundance Film Festival drops Ogden location, shifts to new programs

Ogden is taking the news of being cut loose as well as can be expected. After consuming an entire half-gallon of Mocha Almond Fudge and spending the evening curled up on the couch with a box of tissues and “Napoleon Dynamite” on DVD, she’s finally managed to put a brave face on her disappointment — possibly by rationalizing that at any moment Robert Redford might call to say he made a mistake and wants us back.

Yeah. Don’t count on it.

RELATED: Ogden fuels the arts along the Wasatch Front. Sundance doesn’t care.

Sorry, Ogden, but Sundance has found a new girlfriend. One with a sexy English accent.

That’s right. Did you know Redford’s institute has been holding a satellite film festival in England? The annual Sundance London started there in 2012 before making a brief Brexit in 2015. However, this year, Sundance was back in London, charming audiences with the kind of quirky, independent films it used to share just with us. (And, of course, with our sister wives Salt Lake and Park City.)

Sarah Pearce, managing director of the Sundance Institute, told the Standard-Examiner’s Becky Cairns she recognized “there will be some disappointment” over the split, but points out it’s for our own good. Apparently, Sundance wants to engage with Ogden “in a different way,” so it will replace our Ogden portion of the film festival with a variety of individual community screenings during the summer and fall. And, Pearce teases, as an added bonus admission to these film screenings will be free.

In other words: “I still love you, Ogden. But just not in that way.”

RELATED: Ogden-area residents react to loss of Sundance

Well, the rest of you may be swallowing the old “I hope we can still be friends” line, but not this kid. As if they can buy our loyalty with– Wait! Free screenings? Will we have to pay for the popcorn?

Meh. It’s true that Sundance Ogden is no more, but what can any of us do about it?

I’ll tell you exactly what we can do. If sitcoms have taught us anything, it’s that the best way to get back — or simply get back at — the one who wronged you is to find an even more attractive love interest to make them jealous.

And that, my jilted friends, is where the Berlin International Film Festival comes in. Frequently known simply as Berlinale, the event is generally considered the largest publicly attended film festival in the world.

So my question is this: If Sundance can have a London satellite festival, what’s to stop Berlinale from having a similar setup in Ogden? After all, I’d imagine Berlin’s organizers are tired of hearing about how Sundance is the hip, edgy, media darling of the film festival circuit. I’m sure they’d relish the opportunity to set up in Sundance’s backyard and steal a bit of its thunder, so to speak.

For me, personally, losing Sundance isn’t much of a blow. I rarely go to the movies anyway, and I’ve seen exactly one film at at Sundance screening. That was about 15 years ago, when a former editor dragged me to a Swedish film titled “Tillsammans” (“Together”), about a small commune in Stockholm during the 1970s.

It was an OK movie, I suppose, but it did feature subtitles, so all I could think was, “Gee, if I’d wanted to spend my evening reading, I’d have picked up the newspaper.”

What I’m saying is, I’m probably not the best guy to be pushing for Berlinale Ogden. But if any of you film buffs would like to pursue it, the Berlin festival’s telephone number is +49-30-259-20-0.

And here’s the thing: Just like in sitcoms, we don’t actually have to date Berlinale. Because once word gets back to Redford and the gang that Ogden is being courted by none other than the huge Berlin International Film Festival, I suspect Sundance will suddenly realize it can’t live without its faithful old flame.

At which point, we’ll have a real decision on our hands. Do we swallow our pride and take Sundance back, or kick it to the curb?

I’m leaning toward the latter, if for no other reason than I’m not sure the institute can be trusted to be faithful any longer.

Because maybe it really isn’t us. Maybe it’s them.

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or msaal@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SEMarkSaal.


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