Sundance Film Festival
2002 Sundance Film Festival
|Location||Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Sundance, Utah|
|Hosted by||Sundance Institute|
The Sundance Film Festival, a program of the Sundance Institute, is an American film festival that takes place annually in Park City, Utah. With 46,660 attendees in 2016, it is the largest independent film festival in the United States. Held in January in Park City, Salt Lake City, and Ogden, as well as at the Sundance Resort, the festival is a showcase for new work from American and international independent filmmakers. The festival comprises competitive sections for American and international dramatic and documentary films, both feature films and short films, and a group of out-of-competition sections, including NEXT, New Frontier, Spotlight, Midnight, Premieres and Documentary Premieres. The 2017 Sundance Film Festival will take place from January 19 to January 29, 2017.
Utah/US Film Festival
Sundance began in Salt Lake City in August 1978, as the Utah/US Film Festival in an effort to attract more filmmakers to Utah. It was founded by Sterling Van Wagenen (then head of Wildwood, Robert Redford's company), John Earle, and Cirina Hampton Catania (both serving on the Utah Film Commission at the time). The 1978 festival featured films such as Deliverance, A Streetcar Named Desire, Midnight Cowboy, Mean Streets, and The Sweet Smell of Success. With chairman Robert Redford, and the help of Utah Governor Scott M. Matheson, the goal of the festival was to showcase strictly American-made films, highlight the potential of independent film, and to increase visibility for filmmaking in Utah. At the time, the main focus of the event was to conduct a competition for independent American films, present a series of retrospective films and filmmaker panel discussions, and to celebrate the Frank Capra Award. The festival also highlighted the work of regional filmmakers who worked outside the Hollywood system.
In 1979, Sterling Van Wagenen left to head up the first-year pilot program of what was to become the Sundance Institute, and James W. (Jim) Ure took over briefly as executive director, followed by Cirina Hampton Catania as executive director. More than 60 films were screened at the festival that year, and panels featured many well-known Hollywood filmmakers. Also that year, the first Frank Capra Award went to Jimmy Stewart. The festival also made a profit for the first time. In 1980, Catania left the festival to pursue a production career in Hollywood.
Several factors helped propel the growth of Utah/US Film Festival. First was the involvement of actor and Utah resident Robert Redford, who became the festival's inaugural chairman. By having Redford's name associated with the festival, it received great attention. Secondly, the country was hungry for more venues that would celebrate American-made films as the only other festival doing so at the time was the USA Film Festival in Dallas (est. 1971). Response in Hollywood was unprecedented as major studios did all they could to contribute their resources.
In 1981, the festival moved to Park City, Utah, and changed the dates from September to January. The move from late summer to mid-winter was reportedly done on the advice of Hollywood director Sydney Pollack, who suggested that running a film festival in a ski resort during winter would draw more attention from Hollywood.
Change to Sundance
In 1984, the now well-established Sundance Institute, headed by Sterling Van Wagenen, took over management of the US Film Festival. Gary Beer and Van Wagenen spearheaded production of the inaugural US Film Festival presented by Sundance Institute (1985), which included Program Director Tony Safford and Administrative Director Jenny Walz Selby. The branding and marketing transition from the US Film Festival to the Sundance Film Festival was managed under the direction of Colleen Allen, Allen Advertising Inc., by appointment of Robert Redford. In 1991 the festival was officially renamed the Sundance Film Festival, after Redford's character The Sundance Kid from the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
UK-based publisher C21 Media first revealed in October 2010 that Robert Redford was planning to bring the Sundance Film Festival to London, and in March the following year, Redford officially announced that Sundance London would be held at The O2, in London from April 26–29, 2012; the first time it has traveled outside the US.
In a press statement, Redford said, "We are excited to partner with AEG Europe to bring a particular slice of American culture to life in the inspired setting of The O2, and in this city of such rich cultural history. [...] It is our mutual goal to bring to the UK, the very best in current American independent cinema, to introduce the artists responsible for it, and in essence help build a picture of our country that is broadly reflective of the diversity of voices not always seen in our cultural exports."
The majority of the film screenings, including the festival's premieres, would be held within the Cineworld cinema at The O2 entertainment district. The 2013 Sundance London Festival was held April 25–28, 2013, and sponsored by car-maker Jaguar.
Sundance London 2014 took place on April 25–27, 2014 at the O2 arena. The Sundance London 2015 Festival was cancelled in an announcement on January 16, 2015. Sundance London will return to London in 2016 from June 10–12 at Picturehouse Cinema in London's West End.
Sundance Hong Kong
Inaugurated in 2014, Sundance Film Festival: Hong Kong is scheduled to take place from September 22 to October 2, 2016. It is held at The Metroplex in Kowloon Bay every year.
Sundance at BAM
From 2006 through 2008, Sundance Institute collaborated with the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) on a special series of film screenings, performances, panel discussions, and special events bringing the institute's activities and the festival's programming to New York City.
Notability of festivals
Many notable independent filmmakers received their big break at Sundance, including Kevin Smith, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, Todd Field, David O. Russell, Steve James, Paul Thomas Anderson, Steven Soderbergh, Darren Aronofsky, James Wan, Edward Burns, and Jim Jarmusch. The festival is also responsible for bringing wider attention to such films as Saw, Garden State, Super Troopers, The Blair Witch Project, Spanking the Monkey, Reservoir Dogs, Primer, In the Bedroom, Better Luck Tomorrow, Little Miss Sunshine, Donnie Darko, El Mariachi, Moon, Clerks, Thank You for Smoking, Sex, Lies, and Videotape, The Brothers McMullen, (500) Days of Summer, Napoleon Dynamite, and Whiplash.
Three Seasons was the first in festival history to ever receive both the Grand Jury Award and Audience Award, in 1999. Later films that won both awards are: God Grew Tired of Us in 2006 (documentary category), Quinceañera in 2006 (dramatic category), Precious in 2009, Fruitvale (later retitled Fruitvale Station) in 2013, Whiplash in 2014, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl in 2015, and The Birth of a Nation in 2016.
At the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, nine films went on to garner 15 Oscar nominations, and four of the five Best Documentary nominees were Sundance films. The next year, about 45 films were acquired by distributors (the most ever) vs. 14 in 2010, an increase of about 220%. Tom Hall of indieWire said it marked "a return to the glory days of pure, unadulterated content speculation."
Growth of the festival
The festival has changed over the decades from a low-profile venue for small-budget, independent creators from outside the Hollywood system to a media extravaganza for Hollywood celebrity actors, paparazzi, and luxury lounges set up by companies not affiliated with Sundance. Festival organizers have tried curbing these activities in recent years, beginning in 2007 with their ongoing Focus On Film campaign.
The 2009 film Official Rejection documented the experience of small filmmakers trying to get into various festivals in the late 2000s, including Sundance. The film contained several arguments that Sundance had become dominated by large studios and sponsoring corporations. A contrast was made between the 1990s, in which non-famous filmmakers with tiny budget films could get distribution deals from studios like Miramax Films or New Line Cinema, (like Kevin Smith's Clerks), and the 2000s, when major stars with multimillion-dollar films (like The Butterfly Effect with Ashton Kutcher) dominated the festival. Kevin Smith doubted that Clerks, if made in the late 2000s, would be accepted to Sundance.
Included in the Sundance changes made in 2010, a new programming category titled "NEXT" (often denoted simply by the characters "<=>", which mean "less is greater than") was introduced to showcase innovative films that are able to transcend the confines of an independent budget. Another recent addition was the Sundance Film Festival USA program, in which eight of the festival's films are shown in eight different theaters around the United States.
In popular culture
In August 1998, the animated television series South Park episode "Chef's Chocolate Salty Balls" depicts the directors of the Sundance Festival moving it to a "different small mountain town," that of the show's main setting South Park, in order to "drain it and morph it into a new LA."
- List of Sundance Film Festival award winners
- List of Sundance Film Festival selections
- Sundance Channel
- Stambro, Jan Elise. "The Economic Impacts of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival" (pdf). Bureau of Economic and Business Research. University of Utah. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
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- Benzine, Adam (October 7, 2010). "Exclusive: Redford plans London Sundance". C21 Media. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
- Farmer, Stephen (October 2012). "Robert Redford, Sundance Institute And Aeg Europe Launch Sundance London At The O2". AEG Worldwide. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
- "Robert Redford, Sundance Institute and AEG Europe launch Sundance London at The O2". Sundance London. March 15, 2011. Retrieved January 19, 2012.
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- "Sundance London Sets 2016 Dates". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2015-11-16.
- "Sundance Mixed With Stars, Politicians". BAM. Archived from the original on 2008-01-12. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
- Harris, Dana (January 25, 2011). "The 15 Oscar Nominees That Came Out of Sundance 2010". indieWire. Retrieved 2011-02-04.
- Knegt, Peter (February 3, 2011). "For Your Consideration: Sundance and Next Year's Oscars". indieWire. Retrieved 2011-02-04.
- Yuan, Jada (January 30, 2011). "Like Crazy's Big Win, and Other Highlights From the Sundance Awards Ceremony". New York. Retrieved 2011-02-04.
- Rancilio, Alicia (January 30, 2011). "Redford relieved this year's Sundance is ending". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Associated Press. Retrieved 2011-02-04.
- Hall, Tom (January 29, 2011). "Sundance 2011: The Obligatory Trend Piece". indieWire. Archived from the original on 2011-04-05. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
- Kevin Smith, interviewed in Official Rejection, documentary film, 2009, directed by Paul Osborne
- Official Rejection, documentary film, 2009, directed by Paul Osborne
- Clark, Cody (January 22, 2010). "Redford launches 2010 Sundance Film Festival in Park City". The Daily Herald. Retrieved 2010-01-22.
- Kay, Jeremy (11 March 2009). "John Cooper steps up as director of Sundance Film Festival". ScreenDaily.com. Retrieved 2010-01-31. (subscription required (. ))
- Cieply, Michael (17 February 2009). "Shakeup in Film Festivals as a Familiar Face Moves". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-31.
- "Sundance Institute announces John Cooper as Director, Sundance Film Festival" (pdf) (Press release). Sundance Institute. 11 March 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-31.
- Anderson, John. Sundancing: Hanging Out And Listening In At America's Most Important Film Festival. Harper Paperbacks, 2000.
- Biskind, Peter. Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film. Simon & Schuster, 2004.
- Craig, Benjamin. Sundance – A Festival Virgin's Guide. Cinemagine Media Publishing, 2016.
- Smith, Lory. Party in a Box: The Story of the Sundance Film Festival . Gibbs Smith Publishers, 1999.
- von Roon, Alexander. "Grass and dark Tunnels: Sundance is a Marketing-Tool for the US Film Industry", Berliner Zeitung 2000.
- Sundance Film Festival – official site
- Sundance: A Festival Virgin's Guide – detailed festival history and information for attendees
- "Sundance Film Festival". indieWire.
- Gaita, Paul (December 2, 2009). "Sundance Film Festival announces 2010 competition lineup". Los Angeles Times.
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