The History Behind Sundance Film Festival

Sundance Film Festival
This film festival is conducted by the Sundance Institute. It’s  an American based  film festival, which takes place every year in Utah. It had 46, 731 number of people attending the festival in the year 2012. It is announced as the independent and largest film festival of the United States. In the month of January, it was held in Salt Lake City, Park City and Ogden and it became like showcase for the international and American Filmmakers. It includes some competitive categories for the International and American documentary and dramatic films; this is applied for both feature and short film. The film festival this year was held from 21st January 2016- January 31st 2016


The complete history behind Sundance Film Festival:

When Sundance Film Festival was introduced, it was named Utah Film Festival. It was started in August in the year 1978 in Salt Lake City, US. This was an effort to bring lots of film makers to Utah. This film festival was started  by Sterling Van Wagenen, one who was the then head of Wildwood, Robert Redford’s company. During that time, John Earle and Cirina Hampton Catania were serving as Film Commission. In the year 1978, films like A streetcar Named Desire, Mean Streets and Deliverance was featured with the goal to showcase directly on American-made films which could highlight the capabilities of an independent film which would also help increasing the scope of film making in Utah. During that time the main aim of that event used to organize a competition among the American films. The one winning the particular competition was awarded with the Frank Capra award. This helped the regional filmmakers to highlight their work and talent. The then jury members included the following persons:

  • Gary Allison
  • Anthea Sylbert
  • Verna Fields
  • Mark Rydell
  • Linwood G. Dunn
  • Charles E.Sellier Junior
  • Katherine Ross


Then in the year 1979, Sterling Van Wagenen quit his post as he had to head the pilot program of the first year. James W became the executive director of this. That year almost 60 films had been  screened and that panel has some well known Hollywood filmmakers. That very year the very Frank Capra award was given to Jimmy Stewart. It also earned a good profit. Later in the year 1980, Catania had to quit this festival as he wanted to pursue the career in production in Hollywood.

Various positive factors helped this film festival to grow. Firstly, the presence of a resident who later on became the chairman of the whole festival. By having his associated with this film festival it gained much popularity and attention. The second reason was that, the country got one more venue for screening American made films.

In the year 1981 it moved to Park City and the dates were changed from the month of  September to the month January. This was done with the suggestion of Sydney Pollack, who said that people would gather much during winter and this will help grabbing more audience from Hollywood. People love to visit such concerts during the winter.


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