The Sundance Swag Festival

Where there are celebrities, there is swag, and the Sundance Film Festival is no exception. Heaven forbid anyone start focusing too much on the actual films, nearly a dozen gift suites opened their doors the first Friday of the festival along Park City’s Main Street. The swag suites have become a regular, rather gross, part of Sundance culture. But it has come way down in scale since several years ago when they gave away fur pieces, $300 jeans and high-end jewelry.

Kate Bosworth, Andy Samberg, Emma Roberts and Rashida Jones are among some of the famous celebrities who stopped by the VEVO PowerStation SOREL Suite, where they were able to indulge in moisturizing facials and lip treatments from Fresh cosmetics and outfit their feet in snow-ready footwear.

At the Alive Expo Green Pavilion, guests could pick up natural skincare products and handmade handbags by Kenyan artisans from Tembo Trading Co. The Bertolli Meal Soup Chalet served up bowls of hot soup and handed out sunglasses and Lumene skincare products to visitors. The Italian shoe company Carlo Pazolini also exhibited (and gifted) its wares at the Sundance Festival as a means of expanding its market reach.

Other swag suites include the Miami Oasis, McDonald’s McCafe Lounge, Puma Social Lounge and temporary Tao nightclub, all encompassed by the brand-heavy T-Mobile Village at the Lift.  The Fender Music Lodge offered live music as well as Bear Paw boots and Park Lane jewelry in swag. On top of all that, Sundance sponsors HP, Acura, Chase Sapphire and the Sundance Channel also hosted suites providing swag along Main Street.

With the growing number of branded swag suites, so too grows the frustration of Sundance Institute founder Robert Redford. Redford complained that the success of the festival has attracted what he calls “leveragers” who muddle its mission of nurturing and celebrating independent films.  The festival is about the filmmakers and their work, not about swag and celebrities, but who knew?

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