Film festival • Hundreds of volunteers help make event successful.
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Willy Brandt has enjoyed the Sundance Film Festival as a moviegoer. This year, he'll get an even closer look.
Brandt, a 23-year-old student at Weber State University, has been selected as a volunteer. He will be a crowd liaison at the Egyptian Theater in Park City next week, answering questions about the festival, directing patrons to where they're going and maybe shoveling snow.
As part of the job, he'll be able to put his language skills to work with the international crowd. Brandt's parents are originally from Peru and he grew up in Germany speaking Spanish at home. The family moved to Utah in 2000.
"They get so many international people and some don't speak English," Brandt said. "I know Spanish, and I'm going to put it to use."
More than 1,800 volunteers participate every year in the independent film festival, according to the Sundance website. Brandt, who has attended the event previously as a visitor, applied to be a volunteer this year and was selected after a phone interview.
Volunteer duties can include ticket-taking, crowd control, inputting admission information, updating availability boards, taking photographs for credentials, answering phones, stocking shelves and handling sales at merchandise shops, distributing festival materials, keeping the venues clear of ice and snow, helping filmmakers and patrons find their way around and assisting with setting up and tearing down the festival.
There are perks besides the satisfaction of helping with a world famous event. A number of tickets for volunteers are set aside for most movies, light snacks are provided and a staff and volunteer opening night party is held.
And there's a fashion boost. Designer Kenneth Cole has been on the festival's Board of Trustees since 2003, and since then, he has designed, purchased and donated the jackets that serve as uniforms for every volunteer.
This year, his company has crafted more than 2,300 bright red, water-resistant, panel-quilted jackets with black removable sleeves, according to Kenneth Cole Productions.
The jackets are a small way to show volunteers they are appreciated and recognized for the hours of service they give during the 10-day event. Volunteers also receive a coupon for 50 percent off a Kenneth Cole purchase.
On Jan. 23, they will be honored at the Volunteer Appreciation Day, where signs with Kenneth Cole posing alongside Kelly Rusk, 2012's volunteer of the year award winner in this year's jackets will be displayed at each Sundance venue. There is a QR code for passersby to scan to watch a short video featuring Derek Waters and other celebrities called "Heroes Don't Wear Capes" and learn more about the work volunteers do.
There are both full-time and part-time volunteer jobs. Brandt, who works at a textbook company in addition to going to school, will put in 25 hours.
"I like movies a lot," Brandt said. "I especially like Sundance movies. Some get big, some don't, but they're still great movies."
Sheena McFarland contributed to this story.