This year’s Sundance Film Festival started on January 19 and ended on January 29. The festival is a program of the Sundance Institute. The institute is a non-profit organization that was founded by actor Robert Redford in 1981. The goal of the organization is to promote the work of filmmakers/storytellers around the world.

The institute has offices located in Los Angeles and New York City. It provides creative/financial support to new and hopeful producers, directors, screenwriters, etc. The Sundance Institute’s programs include various ones including the Sundance Film Festival.

The American film festival occurs every year in Park City, Utah. Sundance has become the latest indie film festival in the US. Over 46,600 people attended the event last year. The festival includes a competition for American and international dramatic and documentary movies. That includes both short films and feature films.

Sundance started about four decades ago in Salt Lake City, Utah as the Utah/US Film Festival. The goal of the festival was to attract more moviemakers to the state of Utah. The 1978 festival included films including “Mean Streets,” “Deliverance,” “Midnight Cowboy,” and others. At the time the main function of the event was to showcase American films, focus on indie films, and promote filmmaking in Utah. The event also highlighted Utah filmmakers who weren’t within the Hollywood system.

A big change was made to the festival in 1981. That’s when Sundance moved to Park City, Utah. Another major change was that the festival date was also changed from September to January. The goal was to attract more attention from Hollywood by holding the festival in a ski resort during wintertime. At the time it was known as the US Film and Video Festival.

There have been other major changes to the festival during the decades. It started out as a low-profile event with a small budget. It also functioned outside Hollywood’s filmmaking system. However, it’s now become a big event that includes Hollywood celebrities, luxury lounges, etc. However during the past decade or so the festival’s organizers have tried to return the festival to its basic roots. It launched a “Focus on Film” campaign in 2007 that continues today.

This year the festival included 10 days and 119 feature films. Grand Jury winners included:

  • “Dina” (US Documentary)
  • “Last Men in Aleppo” (World Documentary)
  • “I don’t feel at home in this world anymore” (US Dramatic)
  • “The Nile Hilton Incident” (World Dramatic)
  • “Chasing Coral” (Audience Award)

The festival included 119 feature-length films and 68 short films. They were picked from almost 13,800 submissions. The awards ceremony was live-streamed and can be viewed via YouTube. The jurors deliberated before making their decision about who should receive this year’s awards at the Sundance Film Festival.

Sundance is one of several indie film festivals in the US. Others include the Tribeca Film Festival and Austin Film Festival. The largest one in the UK is the Raindance Film Festival. There are several others that take place throughout the world. These events are an excellent chance for indie filmmakers to showcase their work.