In January 2007 I attended the Sundance Film Festival, the pre-
mier American festival for independent film, as part of the re-
search for this project. Park City, Utah, where the festival is held,
is a ski resort, cold, snowy, and beautiful in January. The main
street of the town is located at 7,000 feet above sea level, with
snow-covered slopes all around rising to 10,000 feet, all of it
bringing back memories of my earlier high-altitude fieldwork in
I had registered for the festival and sought housing relatively
late in the game, so I stayed in a condo on the far edge of town, at
the outer limits of the shuttle service. This turned out to have its
ethnographic benefits, as people on the shuttle were very friendly
and chatty and I could have conversations with all sorts of people
with various connections to the world of independent film.
Indeed, the friendliness among festival-goers was noteworthy
throughout, and as one stood in line after line in the cold and snow,
with everyone bundled up in coats and hats and boots, one could
always turn to one’s neighbor and say, ‘‘So! What have you seen so
far?’’ and everyone was happy to engage in these conversations.
By luck I had a personal connection to a specific film in the
competition, Charles Ferguson’s documentary about the 2003
American invasion of Iraq, No End in Sight.∞ Ferguson and key
members of the production group, together with friends and rela-
tives, were at the festival in a kind of dispersed network, occupy-
ing hotel rooms and sharing sublet houses around town. I viewed
the film with some members of the group, was introduced to
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