Slamdance Increases Competition Selection; Expands to Salt Lake City for 10th Year
by Brian Brooks
Slamdance 2004 has unveiled its biggest line-up of competition films for its 10th annual event, with 18 feature films and 7 full-length documentaries. Additionally, the festival also announced it will expand its reach to Salt Lake City, in addition to its home at the Treasure Mountain Inn on Main Street in Park City.
The competition slate includes 13 U.S. and world premieres as well as 21 competition short films. Also announced for the festival taking place January 17-24 coinciding with the Sundance Film Festival, is the separation of the Slamdance jury into a documentary and narrative section for the first time.
"We have a bigger documentary competition this year," commented Peter Baxter, Slamdance president and co-founder during a conversation with indieWIRE. He went on to say that docs have grown stronger over the years and this year's expanded line-up reflected the genres vigor. Slamdance will focus its documentary competition in Salt Lake City at the new Madstone Theater in Trolley Square.
"The city has a strong youth culture and it's fast growing," said Baxter regarding the decision to host part of the festival in Salt Lake.
Competition features are limited to first-time filmmakers who work with limited budgets and do not have U.S. distribution. Most of the films in the line-up will debut at Slamdance. Sci-fi drama "Nightingale in a Music Box" by Hurt McDermott, however, has screened domestically at the Mill Valley Film Festival, while Ryan Eslinger's "Madness and Genius" had its U.S. debut at the Hamptons International Film Festival where it won the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Film Prize. The film had its world premiere in September in Toronto. Baxter commented by phone the festival's slate of special screenings, as well as the opening and closing films, will be announced next week.
Jurors in the 2004 narrative competition include filmmaker/journalist Charles Lyons, "The Mothman Prophecies" director Mark Pellington, "Welcome to Collinwood" director Anthony Russo, and Gabe Wardell, programmer at Silver Docs and Slamdance head projectionist. Documentary jury members are: Variety film critic Robert Koehler, Mark Neale, director of "William Gibson: No Maps for these Territories," and "The Decline of Western Civilization" director Penelope Spheeris.
In addition to the annual film festival, Slamdance organizes U.S. and international "On the Road" events in L.A., New York, Washington, D.C., Dehli, Cologne, Beijing and Wroclaw as well as a screenplay competition and other programs.
"We did not expect to be around this long, [and thought] the first festival we thought would be the last," said Baxter. "We've continued to grow by focusing on talented emerging filmmakers with very little money. This is an important part of the organization and will remain so."