The Granddaddy of Independent FIlm Fests
Sundance opens with a Howl tonight
The 31st Sundance Film Festival, the granddaddy of independent cinema, kicks off tonight in Park City, Utah. For the next 11 days, moviegoers will select from 200 dramatic, documentary, and short films shown at venues in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and the Sundance Resort.
While ticket sales are up (with more than 185,000 sold), accommodations are still available. Part of this may be due to the changing make-up of the typical festival attendee. Gone are the massive studio spending sprees that made Park City such a zoo. The festival's newly installed programmer, John Cooper, wants to re-direct the festival from the bawdy commercialism of past years to the independent, low-budget filmmaker.
This is my fourth year at the Festival and here's what's new:
- A new iPhone application that allows users to rate movies after seeing them and add short reviews.
- Rather than one opening night film, Sundance will open with several: A narrative feature from the dramatic competition (Allen Ginsberg drama Howl, starring James Franco), one from the documentary competition (Afghanistan war chronicle Restrepo) and a four-film shorts program that includes work from Spike Jonze and Rory Kennedy.
- NEXT: a program showcasing films made by lesser-known actors and directors for under $500,000.
While Sundance is looking to be a lower-key event, festivalgoers will not lack for star sightings. Philip Seymour Hoffman makes his directorial debut with Jack Goes Boating, a double-couple drama set in New York, adapted by Bob Glaudini from his play. Kristin Stewart and James Gandolfini co-star in Meet the Rileys, a drama set in New Orleans. Other stars with films here are Ben Affleck, Orlando Bloom, Dakota Fanning, 50 Cent, Katie Holmes, Natalie Portman, and Mark Ruffalo.