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DAILY NEWS: Sundance and Slamdance Highlight Digital Side of Park City 2000

DAILY NEWS: Sundance and Slamdance Highlight Digital Side of Park City 2000

by Eugene Hernandez


>> Sundance Adopts Digital Projection As it Begins to Embrace the Festival Experience of the Future


(indieWIRE/1.6.2000) -- Attendees will get a peak at the Sundance Film
Festival
of the new century later this month when 17 entries screen
digitally at the 2000 event via a high-tech system being installed at
the Festival's screening venues. Sundance's ability to deliver on its
intentions for an e-cinema experience at its 2000 Festival (as detailed
in an indieWIRE article in October) are a major step. While smaller
festivals and digital events have utilized digital projection systems
for a few year, Sundance is the first major international film festival
to incorporate e-cinema into its primary program. This is signifcant
because it offers filmmakers low-cost access to the Sundance audience.
The move is the first step in changing the Sundance Film Festival
experience as we know it.


The 17 projects that have decided to screen digitally are "Backroads,"
by Shirley Cheechoo, "Chasing Buddha," by Amiel Courtin-Wilson, "Coming to
Light: the Edward S. Curtis Project and the North American Indians
," by Anne
Makepeace
, "Could Be Worse!," by Zachary Stratis, "George Wallace: Settin'
the Woods on Fire
," by Daniel McCabe & Paul Stekler, "I.K.U.," by Shu Lea
Cheang
, "Johnny Greyeyes," by Jorge Manzano, "Legends Sxwexwxwiy'am: The
Story of Siwash Rock
," by Annie Frazier Henry, "Nuyorican Dream," by Laurie
Collyer
, "Officer Down" (short), by Daniel O'Donnell & Matthew O'Donnell,
"Original Schtick," by Maciej Wszelaki, "The Return of Navaho Boy," by Jeff
Spitz
, "Scottsboro: An American Tragedy," by Barak Goodman & Daniel Anker,
"Stranger with a Camera," by Elizabeth Barret, "Twilight: Los Angeles," by
Marc Levin, "Via Dolorosa," by John Bailey, "What the Eagle Hears," by
Gary Farmer.


The new Sundance projection system actually relies on three key elements, a
high-definition "up-conversion" dub of the movie to the HD CAM format, a
Digital Projection Inc. LIGHTNING display, and a Sony HD CAM player. Chuck
Collins
, National Market Development Manager for Digital Projection Inc., told
indieWIRE earlier this week, "I think this is a huge boon for the
filmmakers -- the film festival is going to change as we know it."


Digital Projection Inc. first provided a digital system at last year's Sundance
Film Festival as part of a seminar with "The Last Broadcast" filmmakers Stefan
Avalos
and Lance Weiler (the filmmakers collaborated with Digital Projection
to release their movie theatrically via digital projection in the Fall of
1998.) The projector used for the seminar was used later in the week for the
Sundance tribute to Laura Dern and Festival organizers were impressed,
according to Ian Calderon, Senior Consultant for the Sundance Institute.
Last year, Calderon and Sundance Film Festival Co-Director Geoff Gilmore decided to pursue
a "leap of faith" at this year's festival, and Calderon explored digital
options.


An advocate for keeping Sundance ahead of the digital game, Calderon sees the
move into digital projection as the begninning of a process that could
ultimately redefine the Festival, "The methods of transimission of content
are changing rapidly," he explained, "It raises a question for Sundance -- Do
we have some kind of other option where filmmakers can present their work on
the web? An internet experience?" Concluding he proposed, "Maybe the festival
doesn't happen just in ten days."


Calderon's statements are consistent with Gilmore's comments during the recent
DECADE interview with indieWIRE. Discussing the issue of Sundance's role in
embracing digital opprtunities, he said, "We're showing digital projection
this year, but I think that's a minor first step. I think a lot of it will
continue to be our openness to certain kinds of work. And by being open to
work, one of the things that we also have to reconceive is, for instance:
How Sundance as a festival, as an institution, deals with the 'Net. What
kind of work we do. How this work is accessible to people and the importance
that I still think Sundance has in helping develop those alternatives that
I was referring to earlier, helping to develop audiences -- that I think
one doesn't really have to develop -- one really only has to bring them
to water.





>> Slamdance Steps into Digital Spotlight with Online Festival


(indieWIRE/1.6.2000) -- It should be reiterated that while digital projection
is a major step for a Festival of Sundance's caliber, smaller events, like
its upstart alternative Slamdance (and not to mention RES Fest, DocFest and
others), have been using the systems for awhile. Now as Sundance also
begins to publicly express a desire to redefine its event, in part on the
Internet, Slamdance is already taking a step in that direction.


On the heels of a recent effort by the American Film Institute to showcase
work online as part of its Festival, Slamdance has announced a new Festival
sidebar that will only be accessible on the Internet. Yesterday, Slamdance
2000 announced the lineup for "Anarchy," a selection of 21 shorts that will
debut on the Festival's website http://www.slamdance.com
on January 22nd,
the same day that the Festival opens in Park City.


"Not only does Anarchy allow us to increase the number of Slamdance shorts
by more than 50% of what we'd be able to show in our traditional venues,"
explained Slamdance Co-Founder Shane Kuhn, director of Slamdance.com, in
a prepared statement, "But it offers these filmmakers - and filmmakers in
the body of the festival -- dramatically increased exposure to the world."


In-person Festival attendees will be able to view Anarchy shorts at
Slamdance's new (dot).cave -- a computer space within the Festival's
Treasure Mountain Inn headquarters. Selected shorts will vie for a Sparky
award for Best Online Short film. Following the Festival, Slamdance.com
will host a regular year-round stream of online programming.


"One of the goals of Slamdance.com for 2000 is for it to become an
information and communications hub for the no-budget filmmaking community,"
said Kuhn in a prepared statement, "Over the past six years, Slamdance has
fostered an extensive international network of supporters. Slamdance.com
will consolidate the global Slamdance family in one place and work to
build a unique community of like-minded filmmakers, industry
professionals, and supporters of independent film."



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