Movie buff Rhoda Stauffer of Park City will get a close look at the wildly experimental side of cinema arts this year from her newly appointed station as a Sundance Film Festival volunteer.
This will be her third-consecutive year among an estimated 1,800 volunteers integral to operations for the glitzy 10-day gathering of thousands of film directors, producers and celebrities in, Stauffer happily notes, her home city.
"It's just a great, fun time in town," she said.
Stauffer has friends who also work the festival and enthusiastically puts in almost twice the 24-hour minimum required of volunteers. The Pennsylvania native sees between 12 and 20 films during the festival, which begins Jan. 17, and she describes her personal movie tastes succinctly.
"I just love a story put together well."
Stauffer said she especially enjoys the camaraderie among festival workers and participants. "You get to know all kinds of great people," she said, adding that she can easily walk or take a shuttle to screenings, many of which are minutes from her home.
Past years have seen the municipal affordable-housing advocate deployed as a volunteer theater worker, cheerfully seating Sundance guests, taking tickets and helping clean up at the Library Center Theatre in Park City, one of the 15 theaters used for screening the festival's 200 independent films in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance Resort.
But this year's assignment is a new and special treat.
Stauffer will be a docent at New Frontier at The Yard in Park City, one of seven festival venues. New Frontier features the expanding fringes of cinema, billed as a creative and social space for showcasing innovative high-tech installations, multimedia and interactive displays.
This year's festival will be the seventh year that New Frontier has highlighted the intersection of film, technology and new media story-telling. But it will be Stauffer's first year guiding visitors through its avant-garde displays and panel discussions.
Offerings at New Frontier for 2013 include "Cityscape 2095," a luminous three-dimensional cityscape blending paint and light-projection on the venue's walls; "CORAL: Rekindling Venus," an "augmented-reality" and full-dome planetarium presentation of the planet's 1761 celestial transit; "Eyjafjallajökull," a three-dimensional audiovisual mapping of the 2010 volcanic eruptions in Iceland; and "North of South, West of East," a four-channel film narrative on small-town life, projected around an entire room in New Frontier's 20-seat Microcinema.
According to Shari Frilot, Sundance Film Festival senior programmer and curator of the exhibition, the works by this year's New Frontier artists "disorient time and space, and provoke a reconsideration of how we might cohere the fibers of our bodies with the realities of life on the digital frontier."
As you might expect, Stauffer is thrilled.
"It's always fascinating," she said of New Frontier. "The installations are very creative and always kind of mind-blowing. I really love art. Seeing what people can do with cinema, other than narrative story, is just really fun."
Volunteers to wear Kenneth Cole jackets
Volunteers at Sundance Film Festival will sport bright red, water-resistant, panel-quilted jackets with black removable sleeves as their uniforms this year, thanks to fashion designer Kenneth Cole.
Cole has designed and donated jackets for all festival volunteers since 2003, when he joined the independent film festival's board of trustees.
The apparel is a small token of recognition for the hours of service volunteers dedicate to the Park City-based festival that draws thousands of film industry power brokers and celebrities to Utah, according to Kenneth Cole Productions.
Volunteers also receive a coupon for 50 percent off a Kenneth Cole purchase and will be honored Wednesday, Jan. 23 at a Volunteer Appreciation Day, featuring special recognition for Kelly Rusk, the festival's 2012 Volunteer of the Year.