The first few weeks of the year are always a big deal across the Atlantic, what with the Superbowl followed by the Oscars. Since 1981, they’ve had to share the billing with one of the world’s biggest independent film festivals – Sundance.
Held each January in Utah, the Sundance Film Festival now spans four separate locations; Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and the Sundance Resort. Not that this annual celebration is exclusive to our American cousins, far from it. When the festival was founded all those years ago, the aim was to discover, support and inspire independent film and theatre artists at home and around the world. Those values are more in evidence today than ever before.
So who was responsible for starting it all off? Why, the one and only Robert Redford! Despite his glittering Hollywood career, with films such as The Sting and Out of Africa springing to mind, Sundance is something he remains very proud of. When you consider that the festival has been responsible for introducing such pictures as Reservoir Dogs and The Cove, it is easy to see why.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt will be this year’s host of the feature film awards ceremony, with a total of 19 members across five different juries confirmed to award the prizes. A plethora of premieres await the audiences, but the most notable feature this year will be the scale of recognition for Native American and Indigenous cinema. This was one minority group that seemed to have been forgotten about, yet in 2013 they will be represented in several categories by filmmakers such as Cherokee producer Heather Rae for Ass Backwards, and Samoan director Louis Sutherland for Shopping.
To encapsulate the festival’s true spirit, it’s probably best to leave that to its president and founder, Mr Redford himself: “Storytellers broaden our minds: engage, provoke, inspire and, ultimately, connect us.” The show starts on January 17th, drawing to a close on the 27th.