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Sundance Film Festival 101: Films to Watch, Insider Tips, More!

Curbed Ski writer Katie Shapiro is heading back to Park City, Utah tomorrow, but this time, she's leaving her gear at home. Yes, that's right – there's no time to shred during the Sundance Film Festival, which runs January 22 – February 1. Over the next ten days, industry-types, film fans, A-list celebrities and D-list party crashers flood Main Street (seriously, it's elbow to elbow) for what is arguably the most prestigious cinematic event in the United States. With over 200 of the best independent films premiering punctuated by pre-parties, after-parties and after-after parties, Sundance is a marathon and a tricky scene to navigate. But not to worry, we have a few 'fest going tips for first timers, film picks and Park City secrets, so you're armed and ready. Read on for the ultimate guide to the Sundance Film Festival.

Films First
It's the reason we're really here and we love that it's perfectly acceptable to see four (or more) films in one day. At the top of our list:
· Meru tracks three elite American climbers - Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Renan Ozturk – on their death-defying attempt to summit the magnificent 21,000-foot Shark's Fin peak on Mount Meru in Northern India.
· We'll also watch Robert Redford and Nick Nolte take a hike in A Walk in the Woods, which follows the duo on a 2,100-mile long trek along the Appalachian Train. You can't really miss a Redford film at Sundance right? The actor started this legendary festival in 1978.
· There's no more iconic dare devil than Evel Knievel. Directed by the Academy Award-winning and Colorado-based filmmaker Daniel Junge, the documentary Being Evel shares the legendary life story of the boy from Butte, Montana.
· We love a good ol' 2008 housing market catastrophe tale and 99 Homes is sure to shine in this year's Spotlight section. Starring Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon and Laura Dern, highly acclaimed filmmaker Ramin Bahrani's complex character study is set against an all too relatable American crisis. It's reminiscent of the '80s classic Wall Street and thrilling in all the right ways.
· Click here for the full program and schedule.

Sans Badge?
Most films are sadly already sold out due to official festival badge holders and party invite lists are ironclad. But before you throw a fit, there are are still plenty of ways to get your 'fest on:
· You can now score a waitlist number to sold out screenings via your mobile device (register here). If you're lucky enough to get a seat, tickets are $15 at the door and are cash only. Yay for not having to wait outside in the cold for two hours anymore!
· Try for individual tickets to screenings over the second weekend once the big wigs clear out of town or catch one in Salt Lake City.
· Good luck trying to get a dinner reservation this week, but consult our 18 Hot Spots for Eating & Drinking in Park City. You can usually find a spot at the bar at any of these, but beware that most every venue in town is rented out for a private party at some point.
· Hide out in the special pop-up Powder Ice Lounge at the Waldorf Astoria for a Cedar Smoked Manhattan from the 14-foot bar fully carved from ice.
· Do also take advantage of the always free Park City Transit shuttles because parking is a total nightmare.

Ski & Ride
We're not, but you should! If you're not conducting official Sundance business, it's one of the best weeks of the year to do what you're supposed to do in Utah in January. Take your pick among, Deer Valley, Canyons or Park City – the latter two are now part of the Epic Pass – for a private pow-day. You'll be just one of very few out there.

People Watching
Keep an eye out on-mountain (January 23) for Find Your Grind Foundation's Learn to Ride event, which pairs celebrities with pro snowboarders for a day on the slopes. Clearly a prime location for "Jerry hunting." And a general FYI, you're in a ski town people (we're looking at you LA/NYC ladies)! Leave the high heels at home! Although one of our favorite games is watching you attempt to walk Park City's snowy streets in 'em.

Fest at Home
Couldn't swing the trip this year? You can still be a part of the action thanks to Sundance Institute's stellar streaming live coverage. From film premieres, panels and music, to 24/7 posts on every single social media outlet in existence - it's as close as you can get. You can also follow @kshapiromedia on Twitter for updates and keep checking back with us here at Curbed Ski. #somanyhashtags

· The 18 Hot Spots for Eating & Drinking in Park City, Jan '15 [Curbed Ski]
· Sundance 2014 Police Blotter: Goats, Jock Straps, and Paragliders [Curbed Ski]
· Vail Moves Forward on Plans for Park City-Canyons Gondola [Curbed Ski]
· Park City's Kimball Art Center Under Contract to Developer [Curbed Ski]