Sundance Film Festival

The Sundance Film Festival, a program of the Sundance Institute, takes place annually in Park City, Utah, the largest independent film festival in the United States with more than 46,660 attending in 2016.[1] It is held in January in Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah, as well as at the Sundance Resort. It is a showcase for new work from American and international independent filmmakers.[2] The festival consists of 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.

Egyptian Theater during Sundance 2018
Mary G. Steiner Egyptian Theatre is one of the festival's oldest and most recognizable venues

The 2019 Sundance Film Festival began January 24 and ran through February 3.

Sundance Film Festival
2019 Sundance Film Festival
Sundance Film Festival
Sundance Film Festival
LocationPark City, Salt Lake City, Provo, Utah
Sundance Resort, Utah
Founded byJohn Earle, Sterling Van Wagenen
Hosted bySundance Institute


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.[3] It was founded by Sterling Van Wagenen (then head of Wildwood,[4] Robert Redford's company), John Earle (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.[5] 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.

The jury of the 1978 festival was headed by Gary Allison, and included Verna Fields, Linwood G. Dunn, Katharine Ross, Charles E. Sellier Jr., Mark Rydell, and Anthea Sylbert.

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 midwinter was done by the executive director Susan Barrell with the cooperation of Hollywood director Sydney Pollack, who suggested that running a film festival in a ski resort during winter would draw more attention from Hollywood. It was called the US Film and Video Festival.

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.[6]

Sundance London

UK-based publisher C21 Media first revealed in October 2010 that Robert Redford was planning to bring the Sundance Film Festival to London,[7] and in March the following year, Redford officially announced that Sundance London would be held at The O2, in London from 26–29 April 2012; the first time it has traveled outside the US.[8]

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."[8]

The majority of the film screenings, including the festival's premieres, would be held within the Cineworld cinema at The O2 entertainment district.[9] The 2013 Sundance London Festival was held 25–28 April 2013, and sponsored by car-maker Jaguar.[10]

Sundance London 2014 took place on 25–27 April 2014 at the O2 arena.[11] The Sundance London 2015 Festival was cancelled in an announcement on 16 January 2015.[12] Sundance London returned to London from 2–5 June 2016[13] and again 1–4 June 2017,[14] both at Picturehouse Cinema in London's West End.

Sundance Hong Kong

Inaugurated in 2014, Sundance Film Festival: Hong Kong took place from 22 September to 2 October 2016 and is scheduled again for 21 September to 1 October 2017. It is held at The Metroplex in Kowloon Bay each year.[15]

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.[16]

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, Whiplash, Boyhood, and Get Out.

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 2016 Sundance Film Festival, three films went on to garner eight Oscar nominations.[17] Manchester by the Sea took the lead in Sundance-supported films with six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.[18] The next year, about 40 films were acquired by distributors, among them including Amazon, Netflix, Lionsgate, and Universal.[19]

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.[20]

Numerous small festivals sprung up around Sundance in the Park City area, including Slamdance, Nodance, Slumdance, It-dance, X-Dance, Lapdance, Tromadance, The Park City Film Music Festival, etc., though all except Slamdance are no longer held.[21]

Included in the Sundance changes made in 2010, a new programming category titled "NEXT" (often denoted simply by the characters "<=>", which mean "less is more") 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.[22]


  • Geoff Gilmore – 1991–2009[23][24]
  • John Cooper – 2009–present[25]

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."

In the episode "Hollywood A.D." of The X-Files, Fox Mulder is relieved that the fictitious movie The Lazarus Bowl about his work will never be screened at the Sundance Festival.

In the television series Entourage, one of the independent movies that Vincent Chase stars in (Queens Boulevard) premieres at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, where it begins to gain in popularity.

In the animated television series The Simpsons "Any Given Sundance" episode, Lisa Simpson enters a documentary about her family into the Sundance Film Festival.

In Season 7, Episode 22 of One Tree Hill, Julian Baker takes his film Seven Dreams Till Tuesday to the festival.

Referenced in Season 3, Episode 12 of Gilmore Girls when Paris Geller tells Rory Gilmore to "save her act for Sundance."

In Season 1, Episode 5 of Nirvanna the Band the Show, Matt and Jay fly to Utah after Matt convinces Jay that their amateur film was accepted overnight, where Matt instead hijacks the projection of a completely different film.

See also


  1. ^ Stambro, Jan Elise. "The Economic Impacts of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival" (pdf). Bureau of Economic and Business Research. University of Utah. Retrieved November 6, 2012.
  2. ^ Cairns, Becky. "Sundance Film Festival drops Ogden as screening location". Standard-Examiner. Retrieved June 28, 2017.
  3. ^ "BBC - Films - Sundance Film Festival - A Brief History". Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  4. ^ "Redford's Wildwood Enterprises and PBS Bring "Skinwalkers" to the Small Screen | PBS About". Redford's Wildwood Enterprises and PBS Bring "Skinwalkers" to the Small Screen | PBS About. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  5. ^ Craig, Benjamin. "History of the Sundance Film Festival". Sundance-A Festival Virgin's Guide. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
  6. ^ Peden, Lauren David (December 2005). "Sundance Subdued". Freedom Orange County Information ( Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved November 11, 2007.
  7. ^ Benzine, Adam (October 7, 2010). "Exclusive: Redford plans London Sundance". C21 Media. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  8. ^ a b Farmer, Stephen (October 2012). "Robert Redford, Sundance Institute And Aeg Europe Launch Sundance London At The O2". AEG Worldwide. Archived from the original on May 5, 2013. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  9. ^ "Robert Redford, Sundance Institute and AEG Europe launch Sundance London at The O2". Sundance London. March 15, 2011. Retrieved January 19, 2012.
  10. ^ "Sundance London 2013". Sundance London. March 1, 2013. Retrieved November 14, 2013.
  11. ^ "Sundance London 2014 unveils lineup". Digital Spy. March 24, 2014. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  12. ^ "Sundance London 2015 cancelled, festival's future under review". Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  13. ^ Pierrot, John-Paul (April 20, 2016). "Sundance Film Festival: London 2016 – Programme Announced". Picturehouse Blog. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  14. ^ Pierrot, John-Paul (April 25, 2017). "2017 Sundance Film Festival: London – Programme Announced". Picturehouse Blog. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  15. ^ "Sundance". Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  16. ^ "Sundance Mixed With Stars, Politicians". BAM. Archived from the original on January 12, 2008. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  17. ^ Quinnette, Celia (January 24, 2017). "8 oscar nominations for films from the 2016 sundance film festival". Sundance TV. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  18. ^ Quinnette, Celia (January 24, 2017). "8 oscar nominations for films from the 2016 sundance film festival". Sundance TV. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  19. ^ "The Complete List of Movies Sold at Sundance 2016, and Why Amazon and Netflix Went All Out". Vulture. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  20. ^ Kevin Smith, interviewed in Official Rejection, documentary film, 2009, directed by Paul Osborne
  21. ^ Official Rejection, documentary film, 2009, directed by Paul Osborne
  22. ^ Clark, Cody (January 22, 2010). "Redford launches 2010 Sundance Film Festival in Park City". The Daily Herald. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  23. ^ Kay, Jeremy (March 11, 2009). "John Cooper steps up as director of Sundance Film Festival". Retrieved January 31, 2010. (Subscription required (help)). Cite uses deprecated parameter |subscription= (help)
  24. ^ Cieply, Michael (February 17, 2009). "Shakeup in Film Festivals as a Familiar Face Moves". The New York Times. Retrieved January 31, 2010.
  25. ^ "Sundance Institute announces John Cooper as Director, Sundance Film Festival" (pdf) (Press release). Sundance Institute. March 11, 2009. Retrieved January 31, 2010.

Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 40°38′33″N 111°29′43″W / 40.642498°N 111.495143°W

2006 Sundance Film Festival

The 2006 Sundance Film Festival was held in Utah from January 19, to January 29, 2006. It was held in Park City, with screenings in Salt Lake City; Ogden; and the Sundance Resort. It was the 22nd iteration of the Sundance Film Festival, and the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Sundance Institute. The opening night film was Friends with Money; the closing night film was Alpha Dog.

2007 Sundance Film Festival

The 2007 Sundance Film Festival ran from January 18 until January 28, 2007 in Park City, Utah with screenings in Salt Lake City, Utah and Ogden, Utah. It was the 23-rd iteration of the Sundance Film Festival. The opening night film was Chicago 10; the closing night film was Life Support.3,287 feature films were submitted, of which 1,852 were U.S films (compared to 1,764 in 2006) and 1,435 were international films (vs. 1,384 in 2006). From these, 122 feature films were selected and include 82 world premieres, 24 North American premieres, and 10 U.S. premieres from 25 countries. The festival had films from almost 60 first or second-time feature filmmakers.

2008 Sundance Film Festival

The 2008 Sundance Film Festival ran from January 17, 2008 to January 27 in Park City, Utah. It was the 24th iteration of the Sundance Film Festival. The opening night film was In Bruges and the closing night film was CSNY Déjà Vu.

2009 Sundance Film Festival

The 2009 Sundance Film Festival was held during January 15, 2009 until January 25 in Park City, Utah. It was the 25th iteration of the Sundance Film Festival.

2010 Sundance Film Festival

The 26th annual Sundance Film Festival was held from January 21, 2010 until January 31, 2010 in Park City, Utah.

2011 Sundance Film Festival

The 27th annual Sundance Film Festival took place from January 20, 2011 until January 30, 2011 in Park City, Utah, with screenings in Salt Lake City, Utah, Ogden, Utah, and Sundance, Utah.

The festival opened with five screenings, one from each category in competition: Sing Your Song, Pariah, The Guard, Project Nim, and Shorts Program I. The New Frontier category opened with All That Is Solid Melts into Air. The closing night film was The Son of No One.There were 750 sponsors of the festival and 1,670 volunteers. Attendance was initially estimated at 60,000 people.

2012 Sundance Film Festival

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival took place from January 19 until January 29, 2012 in Park City, Utah.64 short films were selected for the festival from 7,675 submissions, including 27 international shorts from 3,592 submissions.

2013 Sundance Film Festival

The 2013 Sundance Film Festival took place from January 17, 2013 until January 27, 2013 in Park City, Utah, United States, with screenings in Salt Lake City, Utah, Ogden, Utah, and Sundance, Utah.

The festival had 1,830 volunteers.

2014 Sundance Film Festival

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival took place from January 16, 2014 until January 26, 2014 in Park City, Utah, United States, with screenings in Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Sundance Resort in Utah. The festival opened with Whiplash directed by Damien Chazelle and closed with musical drama Rudderless directed by William H. Macy.The festival honored late Roger Ebert and premiered Life Itself by Steve James, a biographical documentary film based on Ebert's 2011 memoir titled as Life Itself: A Memoir on 19 January 2014. The festival introduced a new film category titled Sundance Kids, which will help to introduce independent films to a younger generation of audiences. It is also a first category at the festival dedicated to children's films. The festival also hosted several events and discussion panels around themes of success through failure titled Free Fail, which included the screening of Bottle Rocket turned down by the Sundance Film Festival in 1996 and later become independently successful. The festival had more than 700 sponsors and 1,830 volunteers.

2015 Sundance Film Festival

The 2015 Sundance Film Festival took place from January 22 to February 1, 2015. What Happened, Miss Simone?, a biographical documentary film about American singer Nina Simone, opened the festival. Comedy-drama film Grandma, directed by Paul Weitz, served as the closing night film.

2016 Sundance Film Festival

The 2016 Sundance Film Festival took place from January 21 to January 31, 2016. The first lineup of competition films was announced December 2, 2015. The opening night film was Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. The closing night film was Louis Black and Karen Bernstein's Richard Linklater - Dream Is Destiny.

2017 Sundance Film Festival

The 2017 Sundance Film Festival took place from January 19 to January 29, 2017. The first lineup of competition films was announced November 30, 2016.

2018 Sundance Film Festival

The 2018 Sundance Film Festival took place from January 18 to January 28, 2018. The first lineup of competition films was announced on November 29, 2017.

2019 Sundance Film Festival

The 2019 Sundance Film Festival took place from January 24 to February 3, 2019. The first lineup of competition films was announced on November 28, 2018.

Alfred P. Sloan Prize

The Alfred P. Sloan Prize is an award given each year, starting in 2003, to a film at the Sundance Film Festival. The prize is given to a feature film that focuses on science or technology as a theme, or depicts a scientist, engineer, or mathematician as a major character.

Each winner is presented with a $20,000 cash award provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.


Lambert may refer to

List of Sundance Film Festival award winners

This is a list of films that won awards at the American Sundance Film Festival.

Sundance Institute

Sundance Institute is a non-profit organization founded by Robert Redford committed to the growth of independent artists. The Institute is driven by its programs that discover and support independent filmmakers, theatre artists and composers from all over the world. At the core of the programs is the goal to introduce audiences to the artists' new work, aided by the Institute's Labs, granting and mentorship programs that take place throughout the year in the United States and internationally.The Institute has offices in Park City, Los Angeles, and New York City, and provides creative and financial support to emerging and aspiring filmmakers, directors, producers, film composers, screenwriters, playwrights and theatre artists through a series of Labs and fellowships. The programs of Sundance Institute include the Sundance Film Festival, a notable and critically acclaimed film festival in the U.S. that serves as a platform for independent filmmakers, storytellers and composers.

The Sundance Institute's founding staff, assembled in the spring of 1980, included Executive Director Sterling Van Wagenen, Director of Film Development Programs Jenny Walz Selby, and Director of Development Jon Lear. Frank Daniel was secured as Artistic Director. This staff produced the first Filmmakers Lab in June 1981, which fortuitously followed the Academy Awards at which Ordinary People (the directorial debut of Robert Redford) won numerous awards, including Best Picture. Michelle Satter joined the staff in June 1981 and subsequently opened up the Los Angeles office of the Institute.The Sundance Institute's 1981 founding Board of Trustees included Robert Redford, Sterling VanWagenen, Robert E. Gipson, Ian Calderon, Robert Geller, George White, Irving Azoff, Saul Bass, Ian Cumming, Frank Daniel, Christopher Dodd, Moctesuma Esparza, Dr. Robert Gray, Alan Jacobs, Karl Malden, Mary McFadden, Mike Medavoy, Victor Nunez, Wayne Owens, Sydney Pollack, Gilbert Shelton, Annick Smith, Anthony Thomopoulos, Claire Townsend, and Robert Townsend. The first six listed were also members of the executive committee.

In 1985, the Sundance Institute assumed management of the fledgling United States Film Festival, which had been experiencing financial problems. The Institute hired Tony Safford from the AFI Kennedy Center program as Managing Director and renamed the festival.The Institute started off with its Feature Film Program and Film Music Program (revived later in 1994) in the 1980s, then went on to include other programs such as the Native American and Indigenous Film Program in 1994, the Theatre Program in 1997, the Documentary Film Program in 2002, the New Frontier program in 2007, the Creative Producing Initiative in 2008, the Episodic Storytelling Initiative in 2014, Sundance Ignite, a program for young filmmakers, in 2015, and the Creative Distribution Initiative (an extension of the Creative Producing Initiative) in 2017.

At the U.S. Film Festival, after Sundance Institute took over in 1985, there were 85 films shown at two theatres in Park City with a staff of 13. In January 2017 at the present-day Sundance Film Festival, 181 films were shown at nine Park City theatres with a staff of 224 and 71,600 attendees.

Whiplash (2014 film)

Whiplash is a 2014 American drama film written and directed by Damien Chazelle. It depicts the relationship between an ambitious jazz drumming student (Miles Teller) and an abusive instructor (J. K. Simmons). Paul Reiser and Melissa Benoist co-star.

Whiplash premiered in competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival on January 16, 2014, as the festival's opening film; it won the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize for drama. Sony Pictures Worldwide acquired the international distribution rights. The film opened in limited release domestically in the United States and Canada on October 10, 2014, gradually expanding to over 500 screens and finally closing on March 26, 2015. The film grossed $49 million on a production budget of $3.3 million.

The film received widespread critical acclaim, with particular praise for Simmons's performance and Chazelle's screenplay. At the 87th Academy Awards, Whiplash won Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Supporting Actor for Simmons, and was also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.

Sundance Film Festival
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