It's pretty darn cold out there, but at least the sun is shining and the snow gives Park City and Main Street a nice winter shimmer for the annual Sundance Film Festival, which kicks off today.

Yes, the stars are in town, turning our mountain town into a a mini Hollywood at 7,000 feet. But, of course, Sundance isn't really about the stars and the parties. It's about the art, the films and the power of storytelling. And because we love all of that, the editors of Salt Lake magazine will be trolling the streets of Park City to bring you all the inside scoop from the fest. We'll have film reviews, reports from some of the hottest parties, Main Street fashion, behind-the-scenes looks at what it takes to make Sundance happen, and of course, the star report. (In other words, we'll keep our eyes and ears open to the celebrity thing, too.)

Outside the Egyptian Theatre during the 2012 fest. Photo: Marcie Young Cancio.


Here's our quick Sundance primer:

The Sundance Kid himself, Robert Redford, kicks of his regular opening day press conference Thursday (today) at 1 p.m. It's not open to the general public, but we'll have a reporter on hand to cover all the highlights. But, if you want to see the whole thing in all its glory, Sundance will host live streaming video. Live videos throughout the festival will be shown here, so check back daily for conversations with Redford, Dave Grohl, Robert Rodriguez, Juno Temple and Austenland director and local boy Jerusha Hess, among others.  

Screenings kick off on Friday, Jan. 18 in Park City, Salt Lake, Ogden and Provo, so check out the Sundance Film Festival website for all the details on what's showing when and where. Tickets will be extremely hard to come by for premieres and initial screenings in Park City, particularly during the opening weekend, so check in with the box office at Trolley Square for details on films showing in SLC. (We'll hit several screenings early on, so check back often for our take on select films.)

The cast of Austenland, directed by local Jerusha Hess. Photo: Giles Keyte.

If you haven't already plotted out a plan for making the most of Sundance, the festival website provides a ton of info on where to see films, how to buy tickets, parking and shuttle info, plus details on all the films, panels and all the other official details.

Once you're in Park City, Sundance has hundreds of volunteers (just look for the bright red Kenneth Cole puffer jackets and the "Ask Me" buttoms) out and about to help you navigate the festival. These fest insiders can answer questions about buying tickets, direct you to a restroom or a place to grab a hot cup of coffee and when the next shuttle is set to arrive.

The  Sundance House (the Kimball Art Center, 638 Park Ave.) is open to teh public and offers a spot to kick back and relax. Grab a bite to each, check your email or meet up with friends here between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., Jan. 18-25.

The extra bonus: There's an app. A free Sundance Film Festival application, offered on iPhone, iPad and Andriod features the complete film schedule, push notifications with your best bet for getting last-minute tickets, schedule changes, venue and transportation maps and then some.

While many of the A-listers will be tucked away into screening rooms and private parties, there's still going to be a lot of hubbub and excitement on Main Street. Many of the events happening the first weekend are sadly closed to the public (really one of the ONLY times that Utah has a list, as in "you're not on the list"), but if you want to get into the mix--and aren't as concerned about seeing films--wander past the historic former Claim Jumper Hotel, which transforms into a three-story party house during the fest. Film premiere parties, press junkets, music performances and speaker series will all go down there.

Other good hangouts include outside the ASCAP Music Cafe on 751 Main St. (at the Rich Haines Gallery), where the likes of the Blue Sky Riders, Kat Edmonson, The Head and the Heart, Sea Wolf and Drake White will be rocking out daily.