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6 Reasons the Sun Valley Film Festival is Better than Sundance

Sara Sheehy's picture
Sara Sheehy


Sun Valley has been attracting Hollywood darlings since the 1930s, when Averill Harriman invited his A-list Rolodex to hang out on the slopes of Dollar Mountain. On any given day you might run into Tom Hanks at the Elephant’s Perch or Jodie Foster at Java, but in a few short weeks, filmmakers and actors will descend en masse for the Sun Valley Film Festival. The Sun Valley Film Festival has attracted major sponsors and lauded film insiders. So does Sundance, you say? Yeah, we know. But we think we have a few things to set us apart. Come see if we’re right.

Sun Valley Film Festival, Sun Valley Idaho

Photo Courtesy of Sun Valley Film Festival

Come as Yourself

Filmmakers and movie lovers alike are welcome at the Sun Valley Film Festival. Whether you’re writing your first script, just wrapped a blockbuster movie, or simply like to binge watch Netflix, you’ll feel at home. Insiders and newbies mingle in theaters and lobbies throughout the town. Red carpet? We don’t really do that around here. Leave the selfie stick at home and you'll be more likely to make some real life personal connections.


Sun Valley Film Festival, Sun Valley Idaho

Photo Courtesy of Sun Valley Film Festival // Mark Davis - Getty Images

Sun Valley Film Festival, Sun Valley Idaho

Photo Courtesy of Sun Valley Film Festival // Amanda Nagy

Intimate and Laid Back

The Sun Valley Film Festival is often described as intimate and laid back, just like Sun Valley itself. But don’t be fooled, the Sun Valley Film Festival is a star-studded event. Film industry insiders, as well as Hollywood talent, will be grabbing their badges alongside festival goers. Join the daily Salon and Coffee Talks to interact with filmmakers and producers.   Run into your favorite film producer at Cristina’s. Get inspired at the Sawtooth Club, one of Hemingway’s favorite haunts. It’s all possible in Sun Valley. And hey, don’t forget to watch a few films (see this year’s slate).


Sun Valley Film Festival Passes

There’s a Pass For You

Sun Valley is a mighty affordable place when compared to its counterparts. It's also devoid of maddening crowds that will leave you waiting in endless lines to get into restaurants & bars. The good news for you? There's not only is there an ideal pass for you, but the price points will also leave some extra cash in your pocket. Film fanatics should grab the Film Pass for unlimited access to the films and many of the talks for around $200. Prefer to party? The Party Pass gives you access to the festival’s social scene (but no films). For the full experience, snagging an Insider Festival Pass gets you unlimited access to both as well as priority seating. Pass Details


Sun Valley Film Festival, Sun Valley Idaho

Photo by Tory Taglio

You Can Be In the Heart of It All

Unlike other film festivals, the town of Ketchum remains a manageable place with hotels and AirBnb's that you can actually book. The best part, most of these spots are within walking distance to the majority of the films and events. The majority of the north Valley restaurants are also located in downtown Ketchum and mere steps from the major hotel offerings. If walking isn't your thing, the local Mountain Rides bus service and the hotel shuttles are free and ideal for getting you to and fro.


Sun Valley Film Festival accommodation

Photo: Ray J. Gadd

More Sun, More Snow

Sun Valley is crushing it with sun and snow. With over ample snowfall each winter, 250 days of sun a year, and no lift lines, you’ll be cruising down the slopes in your own private Idaho. Grab the filmmaker you met in the bar last night and work off those schooners from Grumpy’s with a top to bottom run down Warm Springs. If alpine skiing isn’t your style, enjoy one of the many other winter activities in Sun Valley.


Sun Valley Film Festival Sun Valley Scene

Photo Courtesy of Sun Valley Film Festival // Gretchen LeMay

Sun Valley Scene

In the mood for European pizza, an Idaho baked potato, or Vietnamese fusion? Yeah, we have that (and then some). Sun Valley’s world-class restaurants offer up dining for even the most refined palette. Prefer corn dogs and beer in a glass as big as a bowling trophy? We have that too. There are plenty of places to stay up late drinking, dancing, and turning mysterious strangers into friends. Don’t forget to check out the Sun Valley Film Festival for rowdy live music. It’s time to make your way to Sun Valley and see for yourself. Check out the full slate of events for the Sun Valley Film Festival and grab a ticket before the chance is gone.


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