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A Retooled Sundance? Fest Heads Tease Changes

A Retooled Sundance? Fest Heads Tease Changes

The times, they are a changin’. The highest profile film festival in the U.S. is planning on a major change within the next few years to reflect the “changing times in the arena of film.” John Cooper, the newly appointed Director of the Sundance Festival, and Trevor Groth, Director of Programming (also recent in the position once held by Cooper) were on hand in Cannes at the American Pavilion to talk about the festival’s evolution.

Structurally, the festival may re-orient its many sections to reflect a specific genre in order to avoid confusion for viewers. Cooper said they’re “looking for clarity of program as its gotten confusing.” Categories will become clearer so as to not tick off viewers when they go to what they think is a narrative film and end up watching an experimental instead. “We’re thinking of a New Frontier Film Category which covers just experimental films.”

World Cinema will also be a changing category as organizers are sensitive to not make Sundance “just another festival.” “It’s a festival for discovery, we’re always looking for new films, and new places,” said Cooper.

Trevor Groth at the American Pavilion. Photo by Robin Sanders

Another change is a possible category for low-budget film. When asked what the difference would be as most films at Sundance are already low budget, Cooper emphasized the “need to differentiate between ‘low budget’ and ‘low budget aesthetics.'” These changes will happen over the next few years, with even possible hush hush changes for the 2010 festival.

They both agreed that “big careers come out of our festival, more so than films” and they gave an inside track on how to score big with your Sundance submission… First, Are you nice?, and second… make a film with dogs in it. Groth jokingly agreed, “We’re a sucker for films with dogs and monkeys.”

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