Saturday was our last full day in Salt Lake City before returning back to Los Angeles. We had tickets to see a Sundance film in the afternoon, but the rest of the day was relatively unplanned. Sultan and I left our hostel in the morning to meet up with Aishola downtown, passing by City Hall and other sights along the way.
Afterwards, we headed towards the City Creek Center to grab some lunch at a restaurant called Blue Lemon. I got the short rib grilled cheese sandwich with sweet potato fries and typing that sentence just made me incredibly hungry.
Since we had a few hours to kill before the film, we decided to go and check out the Utah State Capitol. To get there, we went through Temple Square and up Capitol Hill, past the Alfred McCune Home. This mansion was built in 1900 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Eventually, we made it up to the the Utah State Capitol, home of Utah’s state government. Utah officially became the 45th state in 1896, but construction on the Capitol did not begin until 1912. The building was finally completed four years later in 1916 and today contains the chambers for Utah’s Senate, House of Representatives, and Supreme Court. Outside the main entrance to the building are statues of beehives, Utah’s state emblem, which symbolize industry and unity.
The interior of the building is pretty spectacular. There’s a rotunda with an interior dome ceiling; four statues that represented immigration and settlement, arts and education, science and technology, and land and community; a cyclorama depicting early 19th century Utah; and some additional murals.
From the rotunda, there are two main wings that stretch out towards the chambers for the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court. Each has a vaulted atrium and a painted lunette.
We heard some noise coming from the level below us, so we went down to investigate. It turned out to be a small “March for Life” rally that even had some folks decked out in full Trump outfits. Ridiculous. I didn’t even bother taking a picture because why would I want that on this page? Instead, here’s an image from the massive Women’s March in Los Angeles that I attended a few weeks ago.
Rather than wallow in the basement, we went to the top floor where there was a gallery of different exhibits regarding Utah’s history.
It was finally time to start heading out to see the film and, rather than take the bus, we wound up taking a walk to the Tower Theatre instead. We had two tickets for the film, but there were three of us, so Sultan signed up for the the waitlist line. While Aishola and I were in the ticketed line, a lady behind us started to talk about an incident that she witnessed at the Sundance box office. She ended her story saying that white people probably have it the worst out of everyone. I had to turn around after she said that, reminding myself that Utah still is a red state.
Aishola and I were let inside the theater and Sultan got in soon after. We were there to watch a film called Columbus that turned out the be my favorite of all the ones that we watched during this trip. Columbus, starring John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson, is about two strangers who meet in Columbus, Ohio and are dealing with family issues while bonding over the city’s modernist architecture. The film, a debut feature directed by Kogonada, is BEAUTIFULLY shot and the architecture itself sort of acts as another lead character. I would love to see Columbus again and hope to see more films with complex Asian male leads in the future.
Side note, I noticed after this that all three narrative films that we watched at Sundance had plots that dealt with either a father who was dead or dying. What a strange coincidence.
After the film, Sultan and I dropped off Aishola at the Trax station before taking another walk to the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center for our last film of the festival. We signed up for the waitlist to see a documentary called Cries from Syria, directed by Evgeny Afineevsky. The documentary essentially gave an overview of the conflict in Syria in four parts, using interviews and footage taken by people in the middle of the conflict to tell the story.
It was a heavy film to watch, but I also felt like it was a necessary one. It didn’t shy away from showing some of the truly devastating and gruesome scenes to come from the civil war. HBO has already picked up the documentary and it is set to air it on March 13. The director came out at the end of the film to do a Q&A and received a standing ovation.
The film itself was particularly timely in that we saw it the day after Trump signed the executive order enacting the Muslim ban. Going on a trip distanced myself from everything that was going on in the real world, but the real world always catches up. That night, I was just frustrated with the world and our country. Trump has been in office for only two weeks and has already brought on so much havoc. When we see injustice happening, we’ve got to fight.
Hope, community, and solidarity with one another is strength and power. Even though we’re in this giant hole, I’m still determined to create a better future. And even though it seems like there’s bad news coming out of the White House every day, tomorrow is a latter day and I hope that one day we can find and live in a tomorrow that is much better for all of us.
We returned to our hostel after the film to start packing our bags for the return trip home. Our flight was in the early morning on Sunday, so we caught a few hours of sleep before heading to the airport and back to LAX.
Just like that, my first trip to Sundance was over. It was a lot of fun and I did grow to like Salt Lake City, but I was definitely glad to be home.
Check out other posts in the Sal Tlay Ka Siti series:
– Sal Tlay Ka Siti (Part 1): Hello!
– Sal Tlay Ka Siti (Part 2): All American Prophet
– Sal Tlay Ka Siti (Part 3): I Believe
– Sal Tlay Ka Siti (Part 4): Tomorrow is a Latter Day