Independent film market rebounds at Sundance Film Festival
Fri, 01/28/2011 - 21:08 EDT - LA Times
After a dry stretch when many movies went unsold, distributors have snapped up as many as two dozen pictures at this year's Sundance festival.The festival market for independent films has rebounded after several years in the economic doldrums.
The 27th Sundance Film Festival opens this week aiming to defy the economic slowdown by screening a bigger than ever selection of independent movies from the US and around the world.Founded by Robert Redford as a mecca for independent film and an alternative to the Hollywood machine, the festival ironically now attracts huge interest from the commercial industry's scouts, looking for new talent and ideas.This year's 10-day festival, which opens Thursday in Park City, Utah, will show nearly 120 films from 29 countries -- including 40 first films and 95 world premieres.
Films will be packaged under the Sundance name and offered for viewing on some of the Internet's biggest video platforms, including iTunes, Amazon.com, Hulu, Netflix and YouTube.It's hard enough to get into the Sundance Film Festival — more than 10,000 features, documentaries and shorts were submitted for just a few dozen slots in this year's festival. But it's almost equally hard to leave the nation's top gathering for independent film with a distribution deal.
Films about the war in Afghanistan and slain former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto were named in the line-up for next year's Sundance Film Festival.The world's premiere festival for independent films, the January 21-31 festival in Park City, Utah, will once again see a diverse field of competitors in the documentary and dramatic competitions.A total of 16 films will vie for honors in the US Documentary competition, whittled down from some 862 submissions, organizers said.
A documentary at this year's Sundance film festival takes aim at gender inequality in the United States and the distorted image of women in the media."Miss Representation," the directorial debut of actress Jennifer Siebel Newsom, peers through the glass ceiling with a wide range of women, including political and media figures who would seem to have broken through it.The film is in competition at the Sundance independent film festival here in the US state of Utah, with prizes to be announced later on Saturday.
YouTube announced Wednesday that it will begin testing an online movie rental service on Friday to kick off the Sundance Film Festival.Five independent films from the 2009 and 2010 Sundance festivals will be part of a "small collection of rental videos" to be available to US users of the popular video-sharing website in "the weeks ahead," according to YouTube."Making content available for rent will give our partners unprecedented control over the distribution of their work -- they can decide the price of their videos and the rental duration," YouTube said in a blog post.
Robert Redford kicked off the 26th Sundance Film Festival with an appeal for participants at the 10-day event to remember the victims of the devastating Haiti earthquake.The 73-year-old movie icon, one of the founding fathers of Sundance, the world's biggest independent film festival, made his appeal while speaking at the event's opening press conference in Park City."My feeling about Haiti, I think, is pretty much shared by everyone," Redford said. "It's tragic, it's horribly sad. And it's terribly unjust, especially when you look how their life was."