Arts & Entertainment

Standing ovation for Sundance’s ‘New Kind of Wilderness’

PARK CITY, Utah — The Sundance Film Festival world premier of “New Kind of Wilderness” screened at the iconic Egyptian Theater on Main Street Park City on Friday to a packed house, lots of laughs, just as many tears and a rare standing ovation.

Unexpectedly left rudderless, a family in Norway is forced to make some tough decisions transitioning from their idyllic existence in the wilderness to new, unknown experiences off the family farm. The title of this bittersweet documentary holds double meaning as they put one step in front of another to forge a fresh path.

Main Street Park City’s Egyptian Theater. Photo: Michele Roepke // TownLift

“New Kind of Wilderness” is equal parts heartwrenching and heartwarming. It elicits well-paced laughter and crying from the first five minutes of the film to the last, and at every twist and turn in between.

Even though your brain knows it’s a documentary, you can’t wrap your mind around the fact that it’s not scripted, storyboarded, or auditioned-for.

Here’s a video from the talent in the middle, the director on the left, and the producer on the right, on the Red Carpet.

The American audience shifted in its seats, half in anxiety, half in jealousy, at scenes of a six-year-old hiking the forest chopping at everything with his own axe, and at the same boy handling a knife with some authority. The adult in the same shots had it all under control though. That boy further personified his maturity, a result of nature and nurture, when he whispers to his Dad during a hug, “This is the life.” When Dad is asked in the question and answer session on stage about his philosophy, he replied, “It’s about casting all complexities off and simply choosing love.”

The Sundance Film Festival’s version of the Red Carpet seemed a bit of a culture shock as much for the director as she admitted through giggles she, was “pretty nervous” as it was for the film’s family. Photo: Michele Roepke // TownLift

Every one of the questions fielded from the audience began not with a question, rather with a statement to the family and the filmmakers, “Thank you for sharing your story.”

Audience Question and Answer session after the screening. Photo: Michele Roepke // TownLift

New Kind of Wilderness’s vote gets a four out of four Sundance stars from this reviewer.

Store on Main Street where world famous Norwegian backpack brand is sold. Photo: Michele Roepke // TownLift

A few doors down Main Street is the coincidental store of Fjallraven, the Norweigan brand from where the children in the film had their backpacks. A few doors up Main Street is Park City’s oldest restaurant, Red Banjo, whose co-owner Scott Toly, and his daughter and co-owner, and Park City Council member, Tana Toly told TownLift, “We love Sundance, this first Sunday of the Festival is always our busiest day of the year.” Scott had arrived to prepare pizzas shortly after taking some ski runs on Friday morning.

Red Banjo owner-operator Scott Toly. Photo: Michele Roepke // TownLift

People who rode one of the 600 free buses to the showing at the Egyptian on Friday experienced an eclectic mix of year-round workers, seasonal skiers, and weekly Sundancers.

They will have walked past local industrious youths selling the Festival’s and the nation’s trendiest merch which was otherwise sold out in Park City, The Stanley Cup. 

Main Street moviegoers also saw these two women receiving a walk-up delivery in the red bag from Door Dash of cold medicine.

Photo: Michele Roepke // TownLift

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