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Sundance Institute Pushes Preservation at Independent Film Week in New York

Sundance Institute Pushes Preservation at Independent Film Week in New York

The Sundance Institute held its second annual New York get-together Tuesday night during Independent Film Week, with dozens of alumni crowding the covered pool deck at the Empire Hotel at Lincoln Center while the rain pounded outside. Executive director Keri Putnam and festival director John Cooper hosted the shindig along with about a dozen of their staff, including feature film program founding director Michelle Satter and new feature film program international director Paul Federbush.

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The Institute execs were in town to meet with new filmmakers, participate in IFW panels and run a workshop at Kickstarter headquarters Thursday night. Invitees to the Tuesday event included writers, directors and producers that have shown films at the festival, attended the Sundance labs or participated as an advisor there — Jeff Reichart (“Remote Area Medical”), Amy Hobby (“Secretary”), Anne Hubbell (“Gayby”), Cary Fukunaga (“Sin Nombre”), Naomi Foner (“Bee Season”), Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Webber (“(500) Days of Summer”), Josh Mond and Antonio Campos of Borderline Films (“Martha Marcy May Marlene,” “Simon Killer”), Mike Cahill (“Another Earth”), Katherine Dieckmann (“Motherhood”), Michael Almereyda (“Hamlet”), Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon (“The Woodsman”), Lara Shapiro (“Labor Pains”), Alex Orlovsky (“Blue Valentine”), Nelson George (“The Announcement”) and others.

Cooper used the moment to encourage all those alumni in the room to think hard about protecting their films. “Do you know where all the elements of your film are? Are they safe?” he asked, then stumped for the Institute’s preservation program, a partnership with the UCLA Film and Television archive launched in 1997.

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The Sundance Collection at UCLA is designed to house and protect work made by Sundance Institute alumni over the last 30-plus years. But since DuArt in New York City stopped processing and storing film materials at its lab two years ago in its transition to digital, Sundance is pushing its filmmakers to move their films and donate them to the UCLA archive for free preservation. Given that a pair of films from the collection is chosen to screen at the festival each year, even recent Sundance films placed in UCLA’s care could end up back at the festival as special presentations decades from now — as long as they’re taken care of.

To hammer the point home, Cooper wore a t-shirt that read: “my film is hot, wet, dirty & dangerous / my original negative is cool, dry, clean & safe.”

You can check out more information about the program here.

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