The snow-lined strips of the Nevada landscape appear to sprawl out as a vast training ground for a baby giant taking his first steps, leaving deep semi-orbular depressions in the macchiato-tinted earth. The smooth browns morph into freckled reds, and soon we are soaring over an ancient dinosaur’s cracked back at 550 miles per hour.
We’re heading to Las Vegas, the gambling capital of the world, but the only luck I’m hoping for is that our bags make it through. For Las Vegas is not our final destination, rather, Park City, Utah. Park City may pale in comparison to Las Vegas in terms of gambling and other adult-related activities, but it does offer the Sundance Film Festival, the motive for our voyage and one of the best film festivals in the world.
After a short delay at the Vegas airport we jet into Salt Lake City, just one hour away. We are greeted by the city’s great white mountainous teeth, juxtaposed against the man-made glittering yellow lights of the town below.
Our GMC Denali shuttle transports us from Salt Lake to Park City, and we stare at wonder at our luxurious five-bedroom house, complete with flatscreen televisions galore and a roomy jacuzzi.
But first, Kate Shirley and I score the first free movie tickets of the week to a Brazilian film called “Elite Squad 2.” We venture through the very walkable town to Main Street, searching for the cozy Egyptian Theater. Quickly taking our seats, our eyes flit about in hopes of catching a big-time movie star or hotshot director in our presence.
But the film begins before we score an ocular prize, and I am captivated. Elite Squad 2 centers around a hard-nosed Brazilian cop-turned government administrator who struggles to fight both Rio de Janeiro’s drug lords and its corrupt police force. His foil is a pacifist legislator who just happens to be married to the cop’s ex-wife. The film succeeds because of the dichotic yet symbiotic relationship between the cop and the legislator, and the sense of rage at the corrupt system that the film manages to imbue in its audience. The director and the lead actor participate in a Q & A session after the film, certainly a pleasant surprise.
After, Kate and I stroll back to the house and manage to convince Dan and Blair to join us for a refreshing soak in the outdoor jacuzzi. As I glance around at the shadowy, mountainous panorama I reflect on how lucky I am to be in such a beautiful place at such a unique event. I can’t wait to see what the next week has in store.