Sundance Comes to the Tropic With “Strawberry Mansions”

Front Row at the Movies by Shirrel Rhoades

5/5 (1)

The Sundance Film Festival was named after Robert Redford’s character from the film “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” when Redford’s Sundance Institute took over the US Film Festival back in 1984.

Sundance is now the largest independent film festival in America, with more than 50,000 attendees – movie fans, actors, producers, dealmakers, and cinéaste poisers – making a pilgrimage to Utah each January.

My first visit to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, was memorable. I remember Faye Dunaway racing down the aisle to greet Robert Redford, screaming, “Bob, I’m here, I’m here!” Pitching movie ideas to CMA agents. Noodling a rugby film with Catherine Zeta-Jones’s brother. Bumping into filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles, whose daughter used to work for me, with him hugging me and saying, “You’re family!” Rubbing elbows at parties with movie stars you’d recognize from their appearances up there on the silver screen.

Park City is a small mountain town located about 30 miles outside of Salt Lake City. Thanks to a couple of ski resorts, the tourist population exceeds the less than 8,000 local residents. Being a former mining town, you’re warned not to drink the water due to cyanide left over from harvesting gold and silver.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, you may not want to travel to Park City this year. So the Sundance Film Festival is coming to you.

In 2021, the Sundance Film Festival will be going virtual for the first time. While much of the action will take place online, Sundance also has partnered with theaters and drive-ins around the country for satellite screenings. Check for local availability, or sign-up online.

As a Satellite Screen partner, Tropic Cinema will be showing exclusive world premieres of official Sundance Film Festival selections every day from January 28-February 2, with limited seating inside the Carper and Peggy Dow Theaters, and at outdoor venues across Key West.

An indie film titled “Strawberry Mansion” will debut on Sundance’s opening night at 9:20 p.m. Directed by Kentucker Audley and Albert Birney, it can be described as a “playfully surreal romantic fantasy.”

Call it sci-fi.

Set in the near future, we find ourselves in a surveillance state that conducts “dream audits” in order to collect taxes on people’s unconscious lives. Here we meet a genial government agent (Kentucker Audley) assigned to audit the dreams of an eccentric, aging artist (Penny Fuller). While accessing her vast archive of dreams, he stumbles upon a secret that offers him an escape from this dystopian reality. And perhaps a chance at love.

As the directors promise, you will encounter “a glitchy digital dystopia where every human experience is monetized” while discovering “an optimistic future through a retreat to our analog past.”

You are sure to be dazzled by the film’s wild color schemes and imaginative dreamscapes.

Credit the vision of star and co-director Kentucker Audley, whom AV Club describes as “an always-welcome indie leading man” and “an advocate for micro-budgeted filmmaking.”

Village Voice adds, “If Kentucker Audley were just an actor and director, he’d still be one of the more notable figures in the crowd of America’s current independent cinema.”
And that’s what the Sundance Film Festival – whether virtual or ensconced in the gold-depleted hills of Park City – is all about.

As the Tropic reopens with caution, please familiarize yourself with the protective house rules and procedures. In particular, please note that all tickets must be purchased online. Got questions? Email

Email Shirrel:

Ratings & Comments