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Sundance: Evolution of a Festival

Posted January 27, 2010 to photo album "Sundance: Evolution of a Festival"

As park of Movie City: Park City, FilmInFocus’ Nick Dawson looks at ten years that have shaped the Sundance Film Festival.

1978: The First Year
1981: A Move to Park City
1985: A New Partnership Fosters Fresh Talent
1989: Soderbergh's Sex Spells Success
1991: Emergence of the Sundance Generation
1994: Low Budget, High Demand
1996: A Record-Breaking Year
1999: The Year of the Witch
2004: A Classic Sundance Year
2010: New Beginnings, New Directions
2010: New Beginnings, New Directions

2010: New Beginnings, New Directions

If we’re looking at the years that shaped the festival, how about this year? Yes, the festival is not even half-finished as I write this, but there is good reason to pick 2010.
Part of the mystique of the Sundance Film Festival is that every time January rolls around, attendees start getting excited about returning to Park City. Regardless of how any given year’s line-up may look on paper in advance of the festival, it always has the potential to be revelatory and game-changing. Plus, this year is the start of a new regime at Sundance. In 2009, Geoffrey Gilmore stood down as head of the festival after close to two decades in charge, and so this first festival of the new decade is a fresh start for Sundance. Incoming festival director of the festival, John Cooper – who has worked for the festival since 1989 – has stressed his focus on old school values and backed up his talk with the introduction of Next, a programming strand for features with a budget under $500,000. In addition, 2010 is the first year for the Sundance USA program, which takes certain films from the festival on tour around the country, and a collaboration with YouTube which sees a selection of films premiering online at the same time as at Park City.