Sundance 2011 filmmakers face new reality

Thu Jan 20, 2011 12:13pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) - When the 2011 Sundance film festival opens on Thursday, makers of independent movies, distributors and fans all face a new reality after recent years in which investors fled the industry and companies closed.

While some players remain the same -- The Weinstein Co. is still around, so are Fox Searchlight and Focus Features -- there are several new companies playing the indie film game. And new technology is changing the way low-budget movies reach audiences in theaters and in homes.

In a welcome plot twist at Sundance 2011, all that change has brought an excitement to the festival not seen for several years. The new players are bringing a more rational business perspective, and digital technological advances are helping the low-budget movies that screen here reach wider audiences.

According to festival director John Cooper, this year's selection of some 115 feature films playing Sundance generally reflects a desire among directors to look reality squarely in the face and build stories around how they fit into that world.

"They are sticking more to the truth within themselves and the stories they have to tell," Cooper told Reuters.

"There are several films dealing with religion, faith and redemption, and we kind of can't help but think it has something to do with the world we are living in."

Cooper, in his second year running the festival that is backed by Robert Redford's Sundance Institute for filmmaking, will open the event with four movies: one documentary and one narrative each from U.S. and international filmmakers.


<p>Sheila Harmon of Park City walks her dog Lola past the Kimball Art Center before the start of the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, January 19, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart</p>