The Film Comment Podcast: Sundance History
The first Sundance Film Festival, then known as the US/Utah Film Festival, took place in 1978 in an effort to bring independent filmmaking talent to the state. Over the years, word spread, crowds grew, and first-time directors broke out as commercial buyers eventually clued into the potential of this latest wave of American independent film—and now, nearly four decades later, Sundance remains an industry phenomenon. But reading about its history only goes so far, especially for a festival renowned for its original mission of fostering an independent film community. In this special episode of the Film Comment podcast recorded at Sundance in front of an audience at the Kickstarter house, Editor Nicolas Rapold spoke with a panel of Sundance veterans: Ira Deutchman, film producer, distributor, marketer (of sex, lies, and videotape, among others), academic, and co-founder of Emerging Pictures; Eugene Hernandez, Deputy Director at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the co-founder of Indiewire; Lesli Klainberg, Executive Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and a documentary filmmaker whose work has been shown at numerous Sundances; and Dan Mirvish, co-founder of the Slamdance Film Festival and author of The Cheerful Subversive’s Guide to Independent Filmmaking. The discussion (featuring a couple of surprise guests) covered the evolution of Sundance up through the 1990s and beyond as a force in the industry, its importance to queer media and representation, its significance to mainstream perceptions of independent film, and more.