The Sundance Film Festival is a part of the Sundance Institute, an American film festival that takes place annually in Park City, Utah. The 2017 Sundance Film Festival will take place from 19th – 29th January. In 2016 46,660 attendees turned out for the largest independent film festival in the United States. The festival is comprised 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. It is said that everyone who is anyone in the film industry turns up to Park City, Utah to enjoy the best that independent cinema has to offer.This isn’t just any old film festival, this is the festival that launched the careers of Steven Soderbergh and Quentin Tarantino.
This legendary film festival was founded in August 1978 by Sterling Van Wagenen and John Earle as a way to introduce moviemakers to Utah as a possible filming location. Once established, Robert Redford was brought on board as a chairman, and it was heralded as his event thereafter. In 1980, the festival relocated to Park City (reportedly at the suggestion of director Sydney Pollack). In 1985, Redford’s Sundance Institute took over the festival and changed its name to the United States Film Festival. In 1990, it was renamed the Sundance Film Festival.
The location was chosen as such, because it’s owned by actor/director Robert Redford, who bought the property in 1969 and named it after his character in the classic film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He wanted Sundance to be a year round resort that emphasised its arts programs as much as its skiing and outdoor activities. Redford’s goal was to create a space where the outdoors and the arts could come together in a truly unique mountain community – he has achieved that! The rustic yet elegant, environmentally friendly retreat is a full-service ski resort in winter and during the summer, you can explore hiking trails and participate in other warm-weather outdoor activities.
If you are an aspiring film maker, the chances of getting your movie on to the line up at Sundance is pretty slim (short filmmakers alone have a success rate of about 0.74 percent). However if you are successful, approximately 80% of Sundance Films get a distribution deal. That’s 4 out of 5 films. Not even Robert Redford gets ahead of the queue, despite being chairman of the festival since its inception, it took over two decades for the festival to program a film that he was actually starring in.
If you are visiting for the first time, when selecting which films you want to watch, you would be wise to give yourself time to get to the movie theatre and factor in the runtime of each movie. You will also want to factor in the Q&A time at the end of the movie and the time it will take you to transition to your next theatre. People have reported not being able to have time to fit in lunch, so take snacks with you, and remember that some movie theatres are right on the outskirts of Park City which means it takes longer to get to them.
As a general rule of thumb, if a movie has a Q&A afterwards, it will usually last around 15 or 20 minutes. You might not know if there will be one until after the movie, but just in case you’ll want to take that into consideration when you are plotting out your movie schedule.
Finally, remember it is January, it will be cold, it will be snowy and you will spend quite a lot of time either sat down or outside, so take clothes that can be layered. Take a warm coat, gloves and hat and a rucksack so you can pack it full of spare clothes, snacks and drinks.