Ah, the Sundance Film Festival. Where you can take your crappy homemade camcorder movie, and win enough people over and spark enough interest for a big movie company to buy your film, or snag an award from the festival that you’ll be able to stamp on your DVD leaflets for eternity. It’s a place where a film maker can succeed, and leave with a blistered and sore hand from the congratulatory handshakes, or tear in your eye, and a pat on the back with “suggestions” of how to do it better next time. Droves of people go to Park City, Utah every January to make it big, get a theater full of applause after the credits roll, and to gawk at the celebrities.
Starting in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1978, the festival was originally called the Utah/US Film Festival, for the strict purpose of featuring American-made films, with a focus on the potential of the independent film maker and their creations, along with bringing attention to the Utah area for making movies. People like Robert Redford and Sydney Pollack helped streamline the festival into drawing more attention, by becoming the “chairman” of the festival, and convincing the festival producers to take to a ski resort town, respectively. The name of the festival officially became the “Sundance Film Festival” in 1991, named after Redford’s character in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, because of Redford’s massive influence upon the festival, and his endorsement, and assistance since its infancy.
The problem with the festival lately, is that its roots of an “outside Hollywood” way to promote films, and find the next great one, has turned from a quiet, out-of-the-way venue for independent filmmakers to gather and enjoy each other’s work, to a real “who’s who” party of the famous, with the media sometimes focusing more on who’s there than the actual content of the festival, and that is a terrible shame for those who’ve worked their asses off to submit something and have it accepted into the festival. There’s some that don’t care who’s there, and what they’re wearing, they just want their hard work appreciated.
There has been quite a lot of #winning to come out of Sundance, too. People like Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, and Robert Rodriguez got a chance and their break at Sundance. The festival also shines the light on movies that are already made, and just looking for a home, like some of these past gems: Super Troopers, Garden State, Reservoir Dogs, Little Miss Sunshine, and Saw. As a whole, the festival does good for those who can’t for themselves, and anyone can be the next shmoe to be yanked out of there little town, and put in the limelight.
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