For two weeks in January, the town of Park City erupts into a frenzy of soirees, cell phones and screenings. Once the sole inhabitant of the mountain town, the Sundance Film Festival now shares space with an astonishing number of fringe festivals. It’s undeniable that the big ‘Dance still reigns supreme but it is also apparent that not all things in P.C. revolve around the Sun.
Launched in ’95, the Slamdance Film Festival has grown into a leading indie fest in its own right. Billed as a event ‘by filmmakers, for filmmakers,’ the 2000 schedule boasted an impressive competitive slate of 12 features and 16 shorts, plus 30 more films that played in the festival’s ‘Lounge.’
Also this year, Slamdance introduced a new program, dubbed ‘Anarchy,’ which showcased an additional 21 films, screened only on the festival’s website. Viewers could vote on the films on one of the festival’s computers set up on-site.
The Slamdance slate, picked from 2,050 entries (up 334 from last year), included many doc efforts including the world premiere of Oscar contender Amargosa, directed by Todd Robinson and produced by Sidney Sherman and Kenneth A. Carlson of L.A.’s Triple Play Pictures.
Other festival highlights included the U.S. premiere of teen idol Jason Priestley’s doc about Canadian pop group Barenaked Ladies, called Barenaked in America; Good Kurds, Bad Kurds, directed by journalist Kevin McKiernan about the plight of Turkish Kurds (which spurred a heated Q&A afterwards); Searching for Roger Taylor, an in-depth look at New Wave music, produced by Aaron Barnett and Paul Jenkinson of Toronto’s Bitter Boy Pictures; and The Target Shoots First, a candid video diary of filmmaker Chris Wilcha’s experiences working for the Columbia House CD club.
Another festival to watch for is Zuma Digital-sponsored NoDance, which claims to be the first all-DVD projected festival. Two doc titles screened this year, including Mau Mau, Sex Sex directed by Ted Bonnitt and produced by 7th Planet Productions and Small Timers, by Will O’Loughlen of Memphis-based Fine Grind Films. NoDance founder James Boyd says the festival is dedicated to showcasing ‘truly independent films,’ with budgets of US$50,000 and under, and is open to expanding the doc component in future years.