As the thirty-fifth Sundance Film Festival comes to a close, people wonder if the festival may be facing a midlife crisis. Rumors of the overall success of the festival vary from expressions of satisfaction to disappointment.
According to Variety, movie buyers complained about the lineup of films being persistently weak, leaving most investors underwhelmed and annoyed.
Nate Free, a local and frequent Sundance attendee, shared his experience. “I saw 10 films this year, and overall I was disappointed with the film selection,” Free said. “It seemed to include a lot of blockbusters — a lot more mainstream films than previous years.”
Although this year does not have as many promising breakout hits and Oscar nominations, it was still a solid 10 days, according to Metacritic.
“Sundance is the thing you hear about growing up as a kid,” Weber State University Professor Andrea Baltazar, and film producer said. “This was my first year being able to go. It was really fun but also really expensive.”
Baltazar spent over $100 for parking in two days. She said it was worth every penny to attend the festival she had always dreamed of.
Robert Redford started Sundance in 1978 with a goal of creating a place for beginning filmmakers to share their work and encourage growth of film producing in Utah. Since then, Sundance has grown into a large, nationwide film festival.
It is no longer a small affair for unknown names, it has grown into a profitable and prestigious industry.
The top awards of the festival went to “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” “Kailash,” “Butterflies” and “Fathers and Sons.” Certain films were sold for $10 million.
Several movie buyers complained about there being a limited amount of films with broad appeal, but not all of them left empty-handed.
“There weren’t that one or two films that galvanize a festival as there have been in previous years, but there were many good films,” Roadside Attractions co-founder Howard Cohen to Variety, said. “The complexion of any festival reflects the movies, and there were many that were interesting or varied or that dealt with the zeitgeist, even if there wasn’t one that made a big splash.”
A familiar WSU name might be on the list of next year’s movie directors and producers. Baltazar plans to submit one of her short films, which a WSU student produced the music for.
“Everyone should go to Sundance at least once. There will be films you love, films you don’t care for and everything in between,” Free said. “ One of the biggest parts of the experience is being able to branch out and see things you might normally not have the chance to see.”