Sundance celebrates 20th anniversary of ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ with cast, crew

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Hundreds of fans joined the cast and crew of ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ on Wednesday, Jan. 24 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the film.

The film originally premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004, eventually becoming a cult classic celebrated around the world.

“We thought people in Utah would appreciate the film and see it. We just happened to break out and Sundance opened a whole new door for us,” Jeremy Coon, film producer and editor, said.

The film felt more like a student project than the massive smash hit it turned into after premiering at Sundance, lead actor Jon Heder said.

“The movie was a glorified student production,” Heder said. “We were like, ‘Well let’s go, we’re not getting paid. Let’s just go shoot this movie and have a blast doing it’ and it was like summer camp.”

Festival attendee Anni Webb said she hopes more films can emulate the love and care seen in “Napoleon Dynamite.”

“This anniversary is really special. 20 years. I remember when it came out, I saw it then and I loved the humor, I loved the spirit of the film,” Webb said. “It’s very important these days to see that. I think we should see more of it.”

Actors Efren Ramirez and Jon Heder pose with a box of bondoogles. Bondoogles are handcrafted rope braids that appear in the film. (Sydni Merrill)

The film has gained a lot of recognition over the years because of its sincere storytelling, actor Efren Ramirez said.

“Something that was so great about this movie is like in the very end of this movie something great happens to every single character,” Ramirez said.

Cinematographer Munn Powell said he hopes the film’s legacy will continue to inspire future filmmakers to go tell their own unique stories.

“I hope that the legacy for BYU students is if you want to make something, then go make it,” Powell said.

“Napoleon Dynamite” appeals to so many people because it’s a film the whole family can relate to, Coon said.

“I mean the legacy I would say is it’s a fun family friendly movie and its always nice to talk to people that share it together,” Coon said.

After the screening, cast and crew members shared their gratitude for the support of the film.

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