Is Sundance Still for the Indie Film Maker?

focus-on-film Maybe it was the inauguration, or the economy, or the unusually high temperatures, for Utah in January, that has made the crowd at this year's Sundance Film Festival rather different than in years past.  Or could it be that the indie film fest has become over commercialized? Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, Sundance was started to showcase independent filmmakers while avoiding the commercial pressures of Hollywood.  Through the years, its done exactly that by debuting some the best indie film talent working today.  It was a place where unknown, progressive filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, and Jim Jarmusch could showcase their progressive works.  A place where in 1988, a young Park City bus driver named Steven Soderbergh screened his first film: sex, lies and videotape. A film that may have never gained the audience it did, if it had to go through the Hollywood bureaucracy. Fast forward to 2009 and it has become less about film and more about Hollywood.  To many fans of independent cinema (like yours truly), the festival in Park City has become a victim of its own success, overrun by talentless celebrities, besieged by snapping paparazzi and dominated by corporate hospitality suites that shower stars with all the free swag and gift baskets that they can get their manicured hands on. All the while, leaving struggling artists out in the cold (which isn't just metaphor in Utah). This year especially, the D-listers, in attempts to extend those 15 minutes of fame in any way possible, showed up to use the only talents they have: the ability to be seen.  Of course these, media spammers, contribute virtually nothing to the spirit to which the festival was founded.  Hogan Knows Best "star" Linda Bollea, at a film fest?  WTF?!?! Other "celebs" that could be seen around town: T'Danity Kane' diva Aubrey O'Day, Sarah Larson, George Clooney's ex-girlfriend, Tila Tequila's ex Courtneay Semel Shar Jackson, the ex of Kevin Federline (with kids in tow) And others who had no particular reason to be in town... At the '07 Sundance there was a push to get back to the festival's roots... to "focus on film".  That doesn't look like it will happen anytime soon.  I don't think this circus is what Robert Redford had in mind when he began the Sundance Film Festival!  So, it begs the questions: After 25 great years, is Sundance still relevant to independent film making?  Has Sundance become over commercialized?  I'd love to know your thoughts. cj guest avatar Check out CJ on Twitter, FriendFeed, and Facebook

About the Author

Check out CJ Guest on Twitter, FriendFeed, and Facebook