Slamdance provides alternative fest for new, indie filmmakers
Sundance is not the only film festival to follow this month. The Slamdance Film Festival is an independent film festival that is characterized by anarchy and began as an answer to the un-pure Sundance Film Festival. Slamdance harkens back to the soul of independent filmmaking.
The festival’s claim to fame is its exclusive programing by filmmakers, for filmmakers.
Slamdance is known for premiering films created with low budgets and first-time directors. Although fewer Slamdance movies make the silver screen, the festival has brought hits such as “Napoleon Dynamite” to the public eye. Some directors and writers who initially gained notice in the film industry at Slamdance are Christopher Nolan, Marc Forster, Jared Hess and Oren Peli.
Providing many new filmmakers and screenwriters the opportunity to make their way into the film industry, Slamdance encourages complete originality and offers many competitions and rewards.
Slamdance hopes to give independent filmmaking a truer representation. Despite being held at the same time and location as Sundance, Slamdance receives a hefty turnout each year and offers different venues and films for viewers to enjoy.
Starting in 1995, Slamdance has only increased in talent and popularity. The festival received only 48 submissions in the first year, but currently receives more than 7,500 submissions every year. Helping the festival grow and increase productivity is director Peter Baxter, who has been the festival’s director since 1997.
Budding filmmakers can submit their films to Slamdance for potential selection and showing. The festival selects films in various categories, all of which require first-time directors, except for a few special screenings, which is reserved for directors who have previously made a film.
The Slamdance Screenwriting and Teleplay Competition was created solely for the purpose of discovering emerging screenwriters. Slamdance accepts screenplays from all throughout the world, with little to no restrictions. The competition also provides unique feedback for every entrant, in line with the festival’s dedication to helping the emerging writer.
This year’s festival features an exciting turnout of films. One of the more racy films includes “Ghost Team One,” directed by Scott Rutherford and Ben Peyser, which is sure to broaden viewers’ horizons. Conversely, viewers can watch the love story “Bible Quiz,” directed by Nicole Teeny, for something more heartwarming. For something in the middle, “Diamond on Vinyl,” directed by J.R. Hughto, offers a look at a struggling relationship and questions the line between genuine feeling and programmed reactions.
For the filmmakers, screenwriters and viewers who participate in Slamdance, the festival represents a return to true filmmaking, allowing for out-of-the-box ideas and unrestrained creativity, which lets artists shine.
Although Slamdance films are sometimes strange or even uncomfortable, the festival is worth a try. Maybe one can catch a glimpse of the next “Napoleon Dynamite.”
Slamdance took place in Park City, Utah, from Jan. 18 through Thursday.
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