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Sundance Cinema USA
by Karen Pecota

Do you know where the films selected and featured at the Sundance Film Festival end up?  Do you know if it is possible for the general public to view the selected films after the festival? Do you know if these filmmakers ever get to show their films again?  Inquiring minds like to know! Mr. Robert Redford, president and founder of the Sundance Institute, addressed answers to these questions at the opening press conference of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

Redford explained that while his team is working diligently on ways for independent films to be seen other than the festival; he adds that the issue is complex especially surrounding film distribution.  Some of the festival filmmakers are fortunate to get their films "picked up" by large studios. This usually means that the film receives distribution ending in a large audience visibility. Sadly, the majority of the films will not be seen outside a film festival context in spite of the festival’s promotion and support for each film. There are Sundance festival selection films that will be invited to screen at several festivals allowing the film to be on a unique festival tour. The film receives more than the average visibility with a hope that a studio will eventually pick up the film for future distribution.

Redford is proud that the Sundance Institute opens a door of opportunity to independent filmmakers, screenwriters, playwrights, music composers, and theatre artists by celebrating their work. It gives the artists a showcase to be seen often in connection with the Sundance Film Festival. That said, part of the mission Mr. Redford and his lead team have been working on is to answer another question, "How can we preserve the filmmakers works?"  In other words, they ask, "How do we get these films out to the public?"

In the past few years, Redford’s team is proud of some new opportunities for visibility that have emerged. One way is that during the annual Sundance Film Festival anyone can view ten short film selections by using online streaming. The viewing happens in the convenience of one’s own home. One can access these films via the Sundance Film Festival website.

Another way is to participate in the festival's program called Sundance USA. Ten different festival-selected feature films are taken on the road to screen in ten different cities around the USA. Each screening is a one night only engagement. The director or someone connected with the film is present for a Q & A after the screening.  Each screening is held during the annual festival. The festival organizers go to great lengths to make those audiences viewing the screenings feel like they are a part of the festival as much as the festival attendees. I experienced this first-hand when Seattle was one of the cities that received a selection. It was a thrilling experience and lots of fun! (see the Scenes/Sundance Coverage 2011/Sundance Selections Hit the Road)

The Sundance Institute and The Sundance Film Festival (produced by the Institute) are two of seven institutions under the umbrella organization known as The Sundance Group. The institutions within The Sundance Group are listed as follows:  The Sundance Institute, The Sundance Film Festival (produced by the Institute), Sundance Cinemas, Sundance Catalog, Sundance Resort, Sundance Channel, Sundance Preserve and the Redford Center.

Supervised by the Group President Robert Redford, The Sundance Group is proud of their latest project to promote staying power for the independent films and their artists. The idea formulated in 2006 under the name of Sundance Cinemas.  In one year's time, the first Sundance Cinema opened in Madison, Wisconsin in May 2007.

The Sundance movie houses are located in cities around the country including the latest 2012 opening in Seattle, Washington. There are currently seven Sundance Cinema’s nationwide. It's an exciting start! And, it’s an admirable way to seriously address the issue of film visibility for the Independent filmmaker.  The Sundance Cinemas showcase mainstream and indie films that adhere to the philosophy of The Sundance Group. Redford explains, "Though each entity is separately run, all seven institutions share the core value to encompass the desire to support new and emerging artists, respect the environment and create opportunities to learn, discuss and grow."

The Sundance Cinemas raise the bar with exciting facilities that feature a gallery of local art work in collaboration with upscale amenities. Each Sundance Cinema is unique! Local architects are employed to insure a look and feel that relates to the specific community. Therefore, local artists are called upon to share their talents to create the right ambiance for the local cinema setting. Their gift of art creates a unique movie house atmosphere. The individuality could be described as a Sundance Cinema flare.

Thank you Mr. Redford for establishing a vision for the "Big Picture" where Indie films not only have a voice but now they can visibly stand side-by-side with mainstream films in cool venues where art will showcase on a grand scale with class.