This year's version of the Sundance Film Festival, considered by Hollywood to be among the three or four most influential and important international film festivals, started this weekend. We've been lucky enough to attend the festival several times over the years and found it to be as memorable and surreal as you might imagine.

Our ruminations:

1. It can be bitterly cold in Utah, especially when walking the streets pre-dawn to go score tickets. We'd never before (or since) had the snot in our nose freeze into sharp little snot-crystals.

2. We'd also never seen snow so deep. What seemed to be level ground was actually, when we stepped onto it, a snow drift. We sank into right to our knees.

3. The desperate self-promoters and Hollywood wannabes come out in full force at Sundance, which can be especially amusing in the long ticket lines. Sundance releases a small reserve of tickets each morning, which is why you have to line up very very early at the box office. The characters you meet in that line would have you believe that are the Next Big Thing and know everyone who's everyone. But, of course, if they were truly connected they wouldn't be in line with you at 5:30am.

4. You could usually tell which people in line should not be told that we worked in the industry. The next thing you know, you'd be given a business plan for a Leonardo DiCaprio project that DiCaprio had probably never heard of and only needed 85% of the financing.

5. We tried to attend the infamous Sundance parties. Even with our name on the list, one party was so packed we couldn't even get up the steps to the front door. The other was so crowded, the bar was literally wall-to-wall people, crammed in elbow to elbow, each with a drink in their head. We think we had a small panic attack.

6. It's true. Everyone wears black.

7. Celebrity sightings are indeed very common, though we don't count the Q&A after movies when the actors and directors take the stage. We prefer seeing famous people in their natural habitat just out there walking around.

8. For some reason, the most memorable celebrity sighting: 1990s Lolita ingenue sex kitten Dominique Swain posing for fan pictures on the sidewalk.

9. No, we never saw Redford, though we heard he was in a theater we were in.

10. We saw The Blair Witch Project in the front row of a packed auditorium. Remember this was before the hype and the hype backlash. In 1999, it was the hot ticket - everyone was talking about this weird, creepy little movie. It was the scariest thing we'd ever seen.

11. If you plan it right, on a good day you can see five movies.

12. Foreign-langauge movies at Sundance invariably put us to sleep. Not sure why.

13. If you're looking for cheap fast food on a budget, Park City isn't the place to go. There's maybe one Subway and one Burger King.

14. We didn't know that ski resorts would illuminate the slopes so people could ski at night. Is that common? The whole side of a mountain was lit up bright as day.

15. Good luck making a meal reservation for your little indie production company. The stress level was off the charts. We don't miss that part of the job.

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