When people talk of "main street" in their coverage of the Sundance Film Festival, it's not a metaphor, as the small ski-resort town really does have a main thoroughfare that is central to much of the action. It's also the most obvious example of the tension between the growing glitz and the small-town quaintness that is part of the fabric of the event.
As the film festival celebrates its 30th anniversary, these photos are a reminder of how truly intimate the event once was — and also how exciting the meetings it creates can be, bringing together critic Roger Ebert with provocateur Michael Moore, or maverick filmmakers such as John Sayles and Robert Altman. They capture unlikely juxtapositions — "What are they doing together?" moments — such as David Lynch and Dr. Ruth Westheimer.
Some figures have grown up at the festival, as images of a baby-faced Edward Burns or Robert Rodriguez or even the perennially young Robert Redford will attest. There's also the annual procession of actresses-on-the-verge, from once-and-future Sundance queen Parker Posey to Kristen Stewart, Zooey Deschanel or Brit Marling, all looking for a breakthrough spotlight. As an annual pilgrimage for filmmakers on the cusp of their future, Sundance through the years has become a crucible of possibility, a small place where big things can happen.