For me, the Sundance Film Festival tops that list. Festivals are the ultimate buffets for movie fans like myself, and unlike every other major film fest in existence this one is close enough I could drive to it without worrying about a hotel. Even better, most movies have a screening in downtown Salt Lake, just a hop, skip and jump from where I live.
Every year, I look at the lineup of new movies coming to Sundance and drool. There is always a set of movies with big-name actors, the stories just offbeat enough that they need to prove themselves before Hollywood will let them in the front door. Some of these get picked up by movie studios and later released, but missing them at Sundance usually meant you had to wait at least a year to see them.
For other films, however, there is no second chance. It’s rare for a star-free Sundance film to get picked up by a major studio, no matter how interesting it is, and if you miss them at Sundance the chance to see them on the big screen is usually gone forever. I would pour over the reviews for all of these, regretting the great ones I’d missed.
Still, I never bought my tickets. I would tell myself it was too crazy in Park City to be worth the effort, or that I didn’t want to risk driving in bad weather. I would give up too easily on trying to navigate the website, then forget to put the ticket dates on my calendar for next year.
I would never quite find the time to drive down to the Salt Lake ticket office, even though I knew exactly where it was. And for one more year, the festival got pushed back to something I would get around to “one of these days.”
But this year, that’s going to change. I marked my calendar, wrestled the website into submission, and have already earmarked a day to venture up the mountain despite my white-knuckled terror of driving on those roads. I’ll stand in the middle of those insane crowds, try to spot someone at least marginally famous, and generally soak in the experience.
Then I’ll come back down the mountain and see at least one of this year’s fascinating-sounding lineup of movies, whether it’s a documentary about music battling dementia or a comedy about a group of teachers battling a horrible cootie outbreak. Whatever theater I land in, I’ll get the chance to experience something I won’t be able to repeat anywhere else.
Maybe the entire thing will be a disappointment, a pale imitation of the festival I’ve always seen in my imagination. Maybe it will be life-changing, and I’ll fall so deeply in love with Sundance I brave the trek every year.
Either way, though, “one of these days” is going to be today.