To kick off the 30th Sundance Film Festival, Founder and President of Sundance Institute Robert Redford, Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam and Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper embraced 20 Kickstarter funded films and new digital distribution options at the Opening Day Press Conference in Park City, Utah. To bring you the inside scoop, we have photos and two videos of this historic panel.
Robert Redford emphasized how new technology has changed the festival over the past 30 years, “To me change is inevitable,…Sundance is very much about the role that change will play in all of our lives….When we started years ago, there was no texting, there was no iPhone…As it’s come on, we’ve made our adjustments to accommodate the new distribution... In terms of financing, look at all the new opportunities. Kickstarter. Look at all the films that are in this festival financed by Kickstarter, well that didn’t exist. As these things come, we go with it.”
And there were many Kickstarter success stories to celebrate! Twenty films in the 2014 festival were actually funded by Kickstarter, including features, documentaries, shorts, and more. That's over 10% of the festival slate for the third straight year, and totals 73 Kickstarter-funded selections.
The 20 Kickstarter films included the Grand Jury Prize Documentary film called “Rich Hill” that was directed and written by Tracy Droz Tragos. The other 19 films included: “Blue Ruin”, “Wish I Was Here” (Zach Braff), “God Help the Girl”, “Obvious Child” (with Richard Kind), “Drunktown’s Finest”, “The Foxy Merkins”, “The Babadook”, “No No: A Dokumentary”, “Marmato”, “Cesar’s Last Fast” (about Cesar Chavez), “The Internet’s Own Boy The Story of Aaron Swartz”, “Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory”, “Rack Pat Rat”, “Afronauts”, “I’m a Mitzvah”, “The Immaculate Reception”, “The Measure of All Things”, “Clouds”, and “Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset” (which we tried at WIRED café in NYC.)
To help filmmakers with these new digital distribution options, Keri Putnam added, “We support artists creatively, but we also support them by helping them understand how they can navigate this new, pretty complex and pretty quickly changing distribution space… We do have a new program at Sundance called Artist Services (a few years old.) It exists to provide tools, information and resources to filmmakers who want to be independent beginning to end.”
When asked about measuring the festival’s success during the Q&A, John Cooper added, “The health of independent film…with all the platforms…I think on the aggregate, I still have a sense that more independent films are being seen by audiences, and that’s where I take the success.” He also pointed out the importance of films with impact such as “Invisible War” and “Blackfish.”
Sundance 2014 presented 121 feature-length films from 37 countries, and 54 from first-time filmmakers. Out of the 12,218 films submitted, 16 films were selected for both the U.S. Dramatic and U.S. Documentary competition sections, and 12 films for both the World Cinema Dramatic and World Cinema Documentary sections.
The panel was moderated by Sean P. Means, film critic and columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune, who asked Robert Redford about not being nominated for an Oscar for “All Is Lost.” You can hear Mr. Redford discuss his role in the film and view of Hollywood as a business in this VIDEO: Robert Redford discusses Oscar Snub at Sundance 2014. Actor Vincent de Paul also compliments Mr. Redford and shares that he got a standing ovation at Cannes.
Many thanks to the Sundance Institute, Sundance Film Festival, Kickstarter, and everyone involved in bringing this celebration of film together. This event was held at the world famous Egyptian Theatre on Main Street, and is one of our favorite events because it shows the true spirit of independent film.
© Liz H Kelly, National Digital Entertainment Columnist and Goody PR http://goodypr.com