1998 Sundance Film Festival Diaries
The Festival at the End of the Street (January 18)
PARK CITY, Jan. 18 - With 103 features and shorts showing as part of the
Sundance Film Festival, you'd think there was enough to keep most movie
Yet, for every hundred directors whose films are accepted by the festival
programming committee, 600 others receive rejection notices. It's almost
like applying to Harvard.
Over the past few years, however, both foresaken directors and insatiable
filmgoers have found salvation. The Slamdance Festival has provided a haven
for those filmmakers who don't quite make the Sundance cut but still want
to screen their films before an intelligent Park City audience and perhaps
some visiting film execs.
Housed in the Treasure Mountain Inn at the south end of Park City's Main
Street, Slamdance specifically seeks low-budget films by first-time directors
without distribution deals, unlike Sundance. This distinction helps preserve
the independent spirit of Slamdance, the festival organizer believes.
"As the independent filmmaking scene becomes over-romanticized, this
year's festival stays true to our main purpose of supporting emerging filmmakers,"
said Peter Baxter, who co-founded Slamdance in 1994.
The roster for Slamdance makes up in diversity what it lacks in name recognition.
Two of the most talked about films include director Randolph Kret's "Pariah,"
a story of race and crime on the streets of Los Angeles, and "Yellow,"
Chris Chan Lee's tale of eight Asian-American teens on the verge of graduation.
Scott Storm's "Burn," a drama about "rebirth through destruction,"
is most notable for its executive producers - "Usual Suspects"
director Bryan Singer and Counting Crows vocalist Adam Duritz. Among the
short films, Gina Prince's hilarious "Bowl of Pork," a Forrest
Gump spoof, stars comic Dave Chapelle of "Nutty Professor" and
new stoner comedy "Half Baked" fame. (Funniest TV moment of the
week, by the way, was Chapelle explaining the "marijuana subculture"
to Regis Philbin.)
Also screening at Slamdance is "Cannibal: The Musical," a twisted
comedy by "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The
film actually preceded "Orgazmo" (their other live-action film
now showing at Sundance) by a couple years and marked the partners' film
The Slamdance Festival even includes a film about Slamdance itself, among
other things. "Independents Day," a documentary by Marina Zenovich,
examines the direction of indie filmmaking against the backdrop of all the
Park City film festivals.
And, yes, there are even more festivals. How else to handle the overflow
from Slamdance, which claims it received a record 1300 submissions this
year? Last year, that competition was known as Slumdance. That festival
folded this year and its spot was assumed by the Slam Dunk Film Festival.
Alright, this is beginning to get a bit confusing now.
Coming Tomorrow: More on the Slam Dunk Film Festival
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