SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL
Retrieved from Wikipedia:History
Sundance was started in 1978 as the Utah/US Film Festival in an effort to attract more filmmakers to Utah. At the time, the main focus of the event was to present a series of retrospective films and filmmaker panel discussions; however it also included a small program of films made outside the Hollywood system, commonly known as independent films.
Over the next several years factors helped propel the growth of Utah/US Film Festival. First was the involvement of actor Robert Redford. Redford, a Utah resident, became the festival's inaugural chairman and having his name associated with Sundance gave the festival great attention.
Second, the festival moved from September to January. The move from late summer to mid-winter was reportedly done on the advice of Hollywood director Sydney Pollack, who suggested that running a film festival in a ski resort during winter would draw more attention from Hollywood.
Management of the festival was taken over by the Sundance Institute, a non-profit organization, in 1985, and in 1991 the festival was officially renamed the Sundance Film Festival. Many famous independent filmmakers, including Kevin Smith, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, James Wan and Jim Jarmusch had their big break at Sundance. It is also responsible for bringing wider attention to films such as Saw, The Blair Witch Project, El Mariachi, Clerks., Sex, Lies, and Videotape, and Napoleon Dynamite.
Within the last ten years, corporate America has also taken notice of the festival by setting up independent marketing operations during the fesitval. This has not pleased the Sundance Film Festival, who have tried various ways to encourage brands to officially sponsor the festival, instead of creating their own marketing event. The festival has also controversially become a press event for celebrities, with stars like Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, and Britney Spears attending the festival.
In contrast to the "brand dance," the first non-profit space created independently and dedicated to promoting the gay and lesbian films and gay and lesbian filmmakers at the festival made an appearance at the festival in 2003. The Queer Lounge was a huge success that was created on a shoestring budget with a few corporate sponsors. The Queer Lounge has become an interesting addition to the festival festivities, as it is open to everyone, gay, straight, bisexual or otherwise who stop by during the day to learn about films in the festival with gay-themed content, attend panel discussions or just warm up at nice hospitality suite. The space is also used for the press to interview celebrities with films in the festival.
The Festival is named after The Sundance Kid, Redford's character in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
2. Review: The Sundance Film Festival as an Outreach Platform
Documentary filmmakers came to the 2004 Sundance Film Festival with a wide range of educational, grassroots, and community-based outreach plans in mind. Some had broadcast distribution deals in place, many sought the same; others were focused on landing a theatrical deal, while some doc-makers used Sundance as a platform to kick-off their outreach campaigns.Learning Space
During a lively Filmmaker Lodge panel entitled “Politics of Fear,” addressing the role of the documentary filmmaker in our current political climate, an audience member brought up the viability of house parties as a distribution strategy. MoveOn.org promoted this type of organizing for Robert Greenwald’s film Uncovered: The Whole Truth about the War in Iraq. MoveOn.org raised over 1 million dollars for Uncovered solely through their Internet campaign, and the film reached an estimated 100,000 people in one evening of screening at homes across the country. This new “cyber-campaign” model piqued the curiosity of filmmakers Alison Maclean and Tobias Perse. They are just beginning the process of formulating outreach and distribution plans for their film Persons of Interest, which documents the treatment of Muslim-Americans after 9/11. The film was produced by the Documentary Campaign, a not-for-profit dedicated to the production and distribution of documentary films that promote social justice and human rights.Outreach Launch Pad
Deadline: Governor George Ryan is interviewed in Illinois.
Big Mouth Productions is another group of filmmakers who came to Sundance with an outreach strategy firmly in place. Their film Deadline, directed by Katy Chevigny and Kirsten Johnson, takes on the volatile topic of America’s capital punishment system. Deadline’s outreach campaign was launched with the film’s reception at Sundance. In attendance were ex-death row inmates and former Illinois Governor George Ryan who surprised the nation by commuting the sentences of all 167 people on Illinois death row in January 2003. The event was co-sponsored by Hands Off Cain, a league of citizens and parliamentarians for the abolition of the death penalty world-wide, and the Center on Wrongful Convictions, an organization dedicated to identifying and rectifying wrongful convictions and other serious miscarriages of justice. In partnership with these organizations, Deadline’s outreach campaign will be an extensive program including distribution of the film and its study guide to students and activists, a comprehensive Web site, and a series of death penalty symposia. The filmmakers’ goal is to present Illinois as an example that will ignite interest and action in the struggle for a global moratorium.
Born into Brothels: The most stigmatized people in Calcutta’s red light district are not the prostitutes, but their children.
Ryan’s presence at the reception generated substantial buzz and press interest and proved to be an excellent tool for inspiring dialogue about the film’s vital issues. Big Mouth Productions plans to incorporate Ryan into other outreach events at film festivals, law schools, and universities. A broadcast premiere and community screenings are also part of the plan and both will be accompanied by Web-based activist-oriented initiatives.
Ross Kauffman and Zan Briski also utilized Sundance’s built-in socializing structure to create outreach opportunities. Their film, Born into Brothels, offers a rare glimpse into the lives of children born into the red-light district of Sonagachi, Calcutta. During the course of the film, the children’s lives are transformed when they are given the opportunity and resources to express themselves through photography. Throughout the festival, the children’s extraordinary photos, both sobering and hopeful, were on display and for sale at various venues around Main Street including the Skyy View Lounge, where Al Gore was one of a packed crowd attending an HBO/Cinemax documentary film party. Sales of the photographs are used to directly help the children with the goal of providing them with lives outside of prostitution. You can learn more about this project, view the photographs and help the cause at Kids With Cameras.Big and Small
Supersize Me: Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock resigns to eat nothing but MacDonalds for a month, and suffers somewhat dramatic consequences.
Sundance films Super Size Me and Farmingville have very different distribution strategies. On one end of the spectrum is Super Size Me, a burger-in-hand look at the legal, financial and physical costs of America’s hunger for fast food. Directed by and starring Morgan Spurlock, the film was picked up for theatrical distribution by Roadside Attractions and will hit art house screens around the country in late spring 2004. Spurlock’s journey into fast food hell has the type of cinematic edge that gives it crossover appeal and the potential for Bowling for Columbine-sized impact.
Spurlock also has a thorough educational outreach strategy: “We are planning a college tour for the film as well as making videos available to school districts, teachers, educators, counselors, health advisors, nutritionists, doctors, etc. We are currently putting together a workbook and ‘action guide’ that will help educators best utilize the video, complete with exercises suitable for a wide range of students, from K-College.”
In contrast to Spurlock’s theatrical/college-tour approach, Catherine Tambini and Carlos Sandoval’s Farmingville will use public television airwaves and community-based outreach initiatives to call attention to the impact of national immigration policies. A portrait of a small suburban town with a growing population of illegal aliens who are struggling to get by, the film was co-produced by the Independent Television and Video Service (ITVS)and will kick off the next season of the award-winning P.O.V. documentary series on June 22, 2004. P.O.V.’s wealth of outreach initiatives include Talking Back: Video and Digital Letters to P.O.V. ITVS will also be organizing outreach for the film through the Community Connections Project (CCP), in which regional organizers collaborate with national and local partners to extend the impact of documentary films.
During festival week, the Sundance Institute held a special community screening of Farmingville in Salt Lake City. The screening was presented in conjunction with Active Voice, a team of communication specialists who put socially relevant film to work for personal and global change. As with Persons of Interest, Deadline, Born into Brothels, and Super Size Me, Farmingville’s Sundance activities show that the Festival is not only a great feather in your cap, but also a terrific place for outreach, dialogue, and action. (link)
3. Sundance 2006 winners namedTwo films examining immigrant life in America - the Hispanicteen drama Quinceañera and the Sudanese refugee documentary God Grew Tired of Us - have won top honours at the Sundance Film Festival.Quinceanera, written and directed by Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer and featuring a cast loaded with newcomers and unknowns, won both the festival's jury prize and the audience award for US dramatic films, the latter chosen in voting by Sundance movie-goers.Starring Emily Rios in a striking film debut as a girl ostracised by her family after she becomes pregnant shortly before her 15th birthday, Quinceanera offers a culture-clash portrait of Los Angeles' Echo Park area, traditionally a Hispanic neighbourhood that has become a trendy enclave.Christopher Quinn's God Grew Tired of Us, which follows three Sudanese boys adjusting to life in the United States after the bloody civil war in their homeland, received both the jury prize and audience award for US documentaries.Another immigrant story, the Mexican film De Nadie won the audience award for world-cinema documentary. Directed by Tin Dirdamal, the film traces a Central American woman's journey north in search of a new life in the United States.A special jury prize for independent vision was awarded to director So Yong Kim's In Between Days, about a newly arrived Korean girl trying to find her place in America.Iraq in Fragments, offering candid observations of Iraqis' lives under US occupation, won three documentary prizes: The directing and cinematography awards for James Longley and the editing honour for Longley, Billy McMillin and Fiona Otway.The dramatic directing award went to Dito Montiel for A Guide to Recognising Your Saints, which also received a special jury prize for best ensemble performance. The film features Robert Downey Jr., Rosario Dawson, Dianne Wiest, Chazz Palminteri, Shia La Boeuf and Channing Tatum in a drama based on Montiel's youth on the mean streets of Astoria in Queens during the mid-1980s.The Waldo Salt screenwriting award was given to writer-director Hilary Brougher for Stephanie Daley, starring Tilda Swinton and Amber Tamblyn in a drama about a teen accused of killing her newborn baby.The French thriller 13 (Tzameti), written and directed by Gela Babluani and following a young man whose spur-of-the-moment journey turns perilous, earned the dramatic jury prize for world cinema.The world-cinema audience prize for dramatic films went to the New Zealand's No.2, writer-director Toa Fraser's drama abouta Fijian matriarch (Ruby Dee) struggling to bring her alienated family together again.Mexican director Juan Carlos Rulfo's In the Pit, chronicling the lives of workers building a new layer on top of abusy Mexico City freeway, won the documentary jury prize for worldcinema.Prize-winning films were to screen one last time Sunday as the festival ended its 11-day run.Members of the various Sundance juries included Terrence Howard, star of last year's dramatic audience-award winner Hustle &Flow, and filmmakers Alexander Payne, Andrew Jarecki, AlanRudolph and Miguel Arteta.Among other Sundance winners:- Tom Richmond received the cinematography award for dramatic films for director Chris Gorak's Right At Your Door drama about a couple (Mary McCormack and Rory Cochrane) separated when aterrorist attack unleashes deadly toxins in Los Angeles.- Special jury prizes were presented to the documentaries American Blackout, director Ian Inaba's look at the disenfranchisement of black voters; TV Junkie, filmmakers Michael Cain and Matt Radecki's portrait of one man's obsession with the power of video; Philip Groening's Into GreatSilence, a glimpse of devotees' lives at the Grande Chartreuse monastery in the French Alps; and Dear Pyongyang, Japan-raised director Yonghi Yang's exploration of her father's allegiance to North Korea.- Writer-director Julia Kwan's Eve & the Fire Horse, about two Chinese sisters seeking to reverse their family's run of bad luck, received a special dramatic jury prize for world cinema. (link)
4. Prize-winning films
The Corporation(link 1)(link 2)
- Taking recent corporate accounting scandals as a point of departure, the filmmakers trace the origins of the corporation as a publicly regulated institution to its present-day social predominance, dwarfing and influencing governments worldwide. Along the way, corporations' ideals and benefits are weighed side-by-side with their abuses and harms by speakers ranging from CEOs and marketing professionals to economists, activists, and social critics, including Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore.
WHY WE FIGHT, the new film by Eugene Jarecki which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, is an unflinching look at the American war machine, weaving unforgettable personal histories with commentary by a "who's who" of military and beltway insiders. Featuring John McCain, William Kristol, Gore Vidal, Richard Perle and others, WHY WE FIGHT launches a bipartisan inquiry into the workings of the military industrial complex and the rise of the American Empire.
Inspired by Dwight Eisenhower's legendary farewell speech (in which he coined the phrase "military industrial complex"), filmmaker Jarecki (THE TRIALS OF HENRY KISSINGER) surveys the scorched landscape of a half-century's military adventures, asking how - and telling why - a nation of, by, and for the people has become the savings-and-loan of a system whose survival depends on a state of constant war.
Farmingville - In the current frigid national climate facing economic migrants, Carlos Sandoval and Catherine Tambini enter the traumatized world of Farmingville, a previously unassuming Long Island suburb that witnessed the beating and attempted murder of two Mexican day laborers. What the filmmakers find is the very dangerous, two-edged sword of a growing national crisis: on the one side, the community's increasing population of undocumented aliens, who are crowding into single-family dwellings and assembling on early morning street corners, hoping to grab a day's wage; on the other, Farmingville's home-owning families, many of whom have lived there for generations and are watching what they envision as a bucolic little village slipping away. (link 1)(link 2)
Born into Brothels, by Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski, is the winner of the 77th annual Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. A tribute to the resiliency of childhood and the restorative power of art, Born into Brothels is a portrait of several unforgettable children who live in the red light district of Calcutta, where their mothers work as prostitutes. Zana Briski, a New York-based photographer, gives each of the children a camera and teaches them to look at the world with new eyes. (link)
Super Size Me, a burger-in-hand look at the legal, financial and physical costs of America’s hunger for fast food.Why are Americans so fat? Find out in Super Size Me, a tongue in-cheek - and burger in hand - look at the legal, financial and physical costs of America's hunger for fast food.(link 1)(link 2)
Ominously, 37% of American children and adolescents are carrying too much fat and 2 out of every three adults are overweight or obese. Is it our fault for lacking self-control, or are the fast-food corporations to blame?
Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock hit the road and interviewed experts in 20 U.S. cities, including Houston, the "Fattest City" in America. From Surgeon Generals to gym teachers, cooks to kids, lawmakers to legislators, these authorities shared their research, opinions and "gut feelings" on our ever-expanding girth.
Deadline: "It gives you a chance to ruminate on some crucial questions of human(link)
error, justice and life-and-death."
--Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune
Persons of Interest(link 1)
: In this documentary, directors Alison Maclean and Tobias Perse interview 12 families touched by the U.S. Justice Department's panicked arrests and detention of 5,000 Arab and Muslim immigrants just after the World Trade Center attack.
In his documentary feature, UNCOVERED: The War on Iraq, filmmaker Robert Greenwald chronicles the Bush Administration's determined quest to invade Iraq following the events of September 11, 2001. The film deconstructs the administration's case for war through interviews with U.S intelligence and defense officials, foreign service experts, and U.N. weapons inspectors -- including a former CIA director, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and even President Bush's Secretary of the Army. Their analyses and conclusions are sobering, and often disturbing, regardless of one's political affiliations. (link)
5. Other links:Sundance Festival trailer - take a look back as the Sundance Institute celebrates 25 years of storytelling, independence, and discoveryWATCH: SUNDANCE SHORTS GO LIVE!
Experience 50 exclusive selections from the collection of Short Films from the 2006 Sundance Film Festival without ever needing a ticket! Free from the constraints of running time, subplots, and other feature-length expectations, this year's Short Film artists take all the chances they can. NEW PREMIERES DAILY.Sundance 2006 previewSundance Film Festival 2006 Lineup Sundance Film Festival 2005 siteWar Dominates the 2005 Sundance Film Festival WinnersMovie City News - The 2005 Sundance winnersReport from Sundance 2005: Documentaries in ActionSundance Film Festival 2004 site2004 Award winnersMediaRights - Report from Sundance - March 2, 2004 Blogging Sundance