The Sundance Festival, previously known as the Utah Festival is a premiere film festival where independent filmmakers from all around the world display their work. The movies screened at the Sundance Film Festival are later judged by renowned film critics and the audience.
The Sundance Film Festival takes place every January. It is organized by the Sundance Institute and is held at Park City, Salt Lake City, and Sundance Resort. The festival includes competitive categories such as documentaries and dramatics in which a filmmaker can either submit a feature film or a short movie.
Once the festival concludes, an award ceremony is held where the best movies of Sundance receive recognition for their phenomenal story, theatrics, and direction. These awards are based on voting by the audience and by the jury.
Sundance Film Festival
Sundance Film Festival is the largest independent film festival to be held in the United States. Every year, more than 120,000 people attend this premier event and submissions from all around the world are accepted.
The reason why the Sundance Festival has gained so much popularity is that the Park City Film Festival provides a huge platform for all the independent filmmakers who can never hope to showcase their work on the silver screen.
It is a red carpet for emerging filmmakers and artists to test their potential and let their work be judged by the renowned film fraternity.
Most of the Sundance winners to date were able to showcase their work to the world only because of the Sundance festival.
The Sundance Institute gives opportunities to those moviemakers who cannot pursue their dreams due to budget and other restrictions.
History of Sundance Film Festival
Sundance Film Festival’s history is something that cannot be concluded on a single page. Let’s take a look at some of the most significant hours of Sundance and how it grew to be where it is today.
1978 – Utah Film Festival
Sundance Film Festival was first held back in 1978 at Salt Lake City as the Utah Film Festival. The main reason behind the launch of this event was to attract more filmmakers to Utah City and increase tourism in return.
Sundance Film Festival was founded by Sterling Van Wagenen who was head of Robert Redford’s company Wildwood back then, along with John Eerie, who was serving in the Utah Film Commission at that time.
The very first Utah Festival featured movies such as Midnight Cowboy, The Sweet Smell Of Success, Mean Streets and Deliverance.
The chairperson of the Sundance Film Festival at that time was Robert Redford and he alongside Utah Governor, Scott M Matheson, wanted to strictly showcase American made films in the festival and wanted to increase the visibility of filmmaking in Utah while highlighting the potential of independent filmmakers.
At the beginning of the event, the main focus was to present a number of retrospective movies and panel discussions among the filmmakers, conduct a competition among the independent film fraternity and to celebrate the Frank Capra Award. The festival also brought recognition to all the regional filmmakers who worked outside of Hollywood.
The very first jury of the festival in 1978 was headed by Gary Allison which included Linwood G. Dunn, Verna Fields, Mark Rydell, Charles E. Sellier Jr, Katharin Ross, and Anthea Sylbert.
In 1979, the Sundance Festival featured more than 60 films and the panels featured celebrated Hollywood filmmakers. That was the first year when the grand Frank Capra Award was presented to Jimmy Stewart. 1979 was also the first year when the festival made its very first profit. While in 1989, Catania left Sundance in order to pursue a filmmaking career in Hollywood.
There are several factors that contributed to the success of the Utah Film Festival, one of the biggest ones being the involvement of Robert Redford. The festival received great attention only because Redford’s name being associated with it, who also became the inaugural chair of the festival.
Another thing that contributed to Sundance’s recognition was the fact that US filmmakers were already looking for ways to showcase their work. They needed an independent film festival where they would be able to show their potential to the world.
At that time, the only festival that was contributing to the nation’s hunger for American-made movies was the USA Film Festival that used to be held in Dallas.
The response received from Hollywood was imperishable, as soon as they realized the potential Sundance had. Major studios made contributions towards the Sundance Festival which helped phenomenally in the growth of the event.
1981 – US Film and Video Festival
In 1981, the executive director Susan Barrell and Hollywood director Sydney Pollack moved the dates of the Utah Film Festival from September to January. They also changed the Sundance Film Festival location to Park City because of the increasing crowd every year.
The prospect behind changing the dates of the festival from September to January was that since it was being held at a ski resort, there would be more people willing to attend the festival during winters. The same year, Utah Film Festival’s name turned into the US Film and Video Festival.
1984 – Sundance
In 1984, the management of the US Film Festival was then taken over by the well-established Sundance Institute. Robert Redford appointed Colleen Allen to manage the advertising, marketing, and branding of the event.
The festival was officially renamed as Sundance Film Festival in 1991 after Redford’s character “The Sundance Kid” in the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Sundance Film Festival isn’t just limited to the confines of Utah. In 2012, it traveled the first time outside of the US and was held in London at The O2 Arena.
Since then, Sundance Festival is being held annually in London and the location has given the banner some of the best Sundance films ever.
Sundance Film Festival was also inaugurated in Hong Kong in the year 2014 and from 2006 to 2008, Sundance Institutes also made a collaboration with Brooklyn Academy of Music on a special series of performances, film screenings, panel discussions, and some special events. This collaboration brought the Sundance glitter to New York City and gain massive attention throughout the region.
The Growth of the Sundance Film Festival
The festival has changed exponentially over the years. What started as a budget-friendly and small film festival for the independent filmmakers has now turned into a media extravaganza and a hot spot for Hollywood celebrities, paparazzi and global sponsors.
Millions of people attend this festival every year which makes buying tickets a whole new experiment. Even though the management has made it very easy for almost anyone to get Sundance Film Festival tickets but still on the day of the screening, there is a long queue of people waiting to get their passes as a last chance.
The number of Sundance Film Festival submissions has also grown remarkably over the last two decades. Every year, there are more than 60 films screened at the festival whereas the number of submissions they receive is beyond anything.
The Sundance Film Festival winners get the opportunity to sign contracts with the bigger names of the film industry and also collaborate on a more professional platform. Even the movies that are showcased at the event gain massive support from the film fraternity.
Sponsors and organizers from all around the USA make their way to Utah in order to set up luxury lounges and conduct their own events at the gala. One of the reasons why Sundance square events have grown tremendously is because entrepreneurs and multi-national companies find numerous potential in Sundance to strike their own deals with the elite that’s visiting the event.
When is the Sundance Film Festival?
The Sundance Film Festival 2021 will begin from January 23rd to February 2nd, 2021.
The Sundance submission deadline has already passed for the Sundance 2021 festival. The Sundance schedule for the upcoming event is expected to be published around the end of December. Stay tuned on our website for more information regarding the Sundance Film Festival 2021.