Sundance 2002 just ended, and I’ve gotten a few emails from readers asking “Why didn’t you covering Sundance this year?”. To which I can answer only one way…
I refuse to cover something that is a fraud.
When the US Film Festival started in 1978, it was meant to celebrate independent filmmaking. Then Redford came in, changed the name and direction of the festival, and now it’s all about brie and skiing and selling your star-studded “personal” film to Miramax for five million dollars. Hell, even going to the web site to check out this year’s lineup, I got several pop up ads offering the same thing: GET SOME FESTIVAL MERCHANDISE! I don’t want any fucking Sundance merchandise, thank you very much. I just want to see what shit you had lined up for the lemmings this year. NO, I DON’T WANT ANY FUCKING MERHCAN… hmm, this Sundance Angora sweater would look like on Lolita… NO! NO! NO FUCKING MERCHANDISE!
As I try to find my way around the Sundance web site, I am invited to check out the list of sponsors of this year’s event. Little did I know it would take me damn near ten minutes to check out the list. This year’s festival is being brought to me by those bastions of independent filmmaking Entertainment Weekly, Mercedes-Benz, AT&T, Blockbuster and Zenith, with leadership sponsorship support from American Express, Coke, DirecTV and Motorola, plus official sponsors from ABC’s local affiliate, Bonterra Vineyards, the Park City Film Commission, Piper-Heidsieck Champagne, Roots, Samuel Adams beer, Skyy Vodka, the Sundance Channel and the Utah Film Commission. Addition Festival Sponsors include: America Online, Inc., Artisan Entertainment, ASCAP, BMI, Convergys, DIESEL USA, Digital Projection, Inc., Directors Guild of America, EVIAN Natural Spring Water, Fine Line Features/New Line Cinema, Fotokem, Fox Searchlight Pictures, HBO, Kodak Motion Picture Films, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Miramax Films, The New York Times, Park City Mountain Resort, Park City Municipal Corporation, PBS, The Playboy Foundation, Roland House High Definition Post Production, Showtime, Summit County Commission, Universal Studios, USA Films and The Walt Disney Company. Major Festival Sponsors are Balance Bar, The Breeze 97.9 FM KBZN, City National Bank, Clear Channel Broadcasting, David Holland’s Resort Lodging and Conference Services, Deer Valley Lodging, Dolby Laboratories, Inc., Electro-Voice, Film Finders, Film Offices of the Hawaiian Islands, Identity Properties, Italian Film Commission, Maryland Film Office, Northwest Airlines, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Pacific Title and Arts Studio, Inc., PARK CITY TELEVISION Cable 8/UHF 45, Peery’s Egyptian Theater, Prospector Square Lodge and Conference Center, QSC Audio, Radisson Inn Park City, Screen Actors Guild-SAG Indie, Sony Music Film & TV Licensing- Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Sony Pictures Classics, Sundance, Thrifty Car Rental, United Artists, Windows Media, The Yarrow Resort Hotel and Conference Center, Zions Bank and Zomba Music. Supporting Festival Sponsors included Castle Rock Entertainment, Key Bank, KPCW-91.9 FM Park City & KCPW 88.3 FM SLC, KRCL-90.9 FM Community Radio, Los Angeles Times, Myriad Pictures, Odwalla, Trolley Square (a Simon managed group), Without A Box, Inc. and xtronx.
If you need to visit the Sundance Digital Center, say “Thank You!” to Sony. Atom Films is proud to be the principal sponsor of the Sundance Online Film Festival, which differs from the Sundance Online Resource Center, which is brought to you by Media Chase.
Jesus fucking Christ. This isn’t a film festival. This is a fucking cash cow. Thousands of filmmakers plunk down what little money they could scrape together in the hopes of becoming the next Blair Witch Project (who, as we all remember, had been featured on John Pierson’s “Split Screen” cable show a year before making it to Sundance, as Pierson was an investor in the film). Instead, Sundance was filled this year with films featuring slumming starts like Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, Hank Azaria, Nicole Kidman, Jodie Foster, Matt Damon, Tim Robbins, Uma Thurman, Mick Jagger… damn, I couldn’t even make it past the M titled films. Only two or three truly independent movies in competition, it seems.
And in the end, who won this yearr Rebecca Miller. Failed actress turned “indie” filmmaker, who just happens to be the daughter of the greatest playwright of the 20th Century (Arthur Miller) and the wife of one of the greatest actors alive (Daniel Day-Lewis).
Yeah, that’s just coming out of nowhere.
And on your way out of town, I hope those of you who attended thanked the good people of Salt Lake County, who each and every year are supporting The Sundance Film Festival in part by a 1/10 of 1% sales tax for the Zoo, Arts, and Parks Program.