Festival a Piece of Utah History


    By Jenica Stimpson

    Contrary to popular belief, Robert Redford did not originally start the Sundance Film Festival, which is held in Park City each January.

    The festival was initially called the Utah/United States Film Festival when the Utah Film Commission started it in 1978. It was a way to lure filmmakers and tourists to the state. It established real purpose when Redford founded the Sundance Institute in 1981. The institute was set up to actively engage aspiring filmmakers, with the festival becoming a forum for the screenings of their films.

    The Sundance Film Festival is the largest independent cinema festival in the U.S. The festival comprises competitive sections for American and international dramatic and documentary films, and a group of non-competitive showcase sections including the Sundance Online Film Festival.

    The festival has changed over the decades from a small, low-profile venue to a large, celebrity and paparazzi-filled event. In recent years, the festival has tried to distance itself from these distractions, and in 2007, handed out buttons to all filmmakers that read, “Focus on Film.”

    Starting in 2006, the Sundance Institute collaborated with the Brooklyn Academy of Business on a special series of film screenings, performances, panel discussions and special events bringing the institute”s activities and the festival”s programming to New York City.

    Robert Redford named the festival “Sundance” after his role as the Sundance Kid from the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” because it was his favorite character among those he played.

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