Sundance Film Festival

Sundance Film Festival
Photo: sundance.org
The Sundance Film Festival, often referred to simply as Sundance, is an American film festival held annually in Park City, Utah. The festival is a program of the Sundance Institute, a non-profit organization which focuses on discovering and supporting independent film directors, screenwriters, producers, film composers, playwrights, and theater artists. Over the years, the festival has become a premier platform for independent cinema.

The history of the Sundance Film Festival began in 1978, when one of the Institute’s future founders Sterling Van Wagenen organized the Utah/US Film Festival in Salt Lake City. The festival was designed to attract more filmmakers to Utah and to highlight the work of regional filmmakers working outside Hollywood. The new festival showcased strictly American-made independent films.

Three years later, Sterling Van Wagenen and the festival’s chairman Robert Redford founded the Sundance Institute, moved the festival to Park City and changed the dates from September to January. The Institute officially took over management of the festival in 1984. The event got its current name in 1991. By the way, the institute and the festival were named after the Sundance Kid, Robert Redford’s character from the 1969 Western film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid directed by George Roy Hill.

What started as a small local festival has since become the largest independent film festival in the United States, attracting renowned filmmakers, Hollywood celebrities and paparazzi. Some independent film lovers even claim that Sundance has become dominated by large studios, and it’s too hard for small-budget, independent creators working outside the Hollywood system to get in.

Be that as it may, Sundance is still regarded as a mecca of independent cinema as well as one of America’s major film events. Many notable filmmakers received their big break at the Sundance film festival, including Jim Jarmusch, Edward Burns, James Wan, Darren Aronofsky, Steven Soderbergh, Paul Thomas Anderson, Steve James, David O. Russell, Todd Field, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, and Kevin Smith.

The program of the festival is divided into several sections including competitive sections for U.S. and world dramatic and documentary films, and a number of non-competitive sections (Premieres, Documentary Premieres, NEXT, Spotlight, Shorts, Midnight, New Frontier, Special Events, etc.). Alongside film screenings, Sundance also hosts panels and film music events.

Sundance Film Festival

Photo: geektyrant.com



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