A Minute With: Sundance Film Festival director John Cooper

Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:10am EST
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By Christine Kearney

PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) - The Sundance Film Festival kicks off on Thursday, starting ten days of movie screenings and providing the launching pad for some of the world's top low-budget features and documentaries at the largest U.S. gathering for independent filmmakers.

The 117 movies to be screened at the festival held in the ski resort of Park City, Utah were selected from 4,042 features submitted, including 24 in competition.

Festival director John Cooper, Sundance's chief programmer, spoke to Reuters about the tone of the films selected and how first time filmmakers can be hopeful with new technology making films easier to turn around and offering a variety of platforms for films to reach audiences.

Q. What are you seeing that's different in the overall tone of the films selected this year?

A. "What I am seeing in general is that the independent film movement or community is maturing a little bit. The bar gets set higher each year. It doesn't seem to be leveling off. Each year the films are coming in with more depth of quality and over arching completeness and vision. This bar is set and other filmmakers coming up through the ranks know that is there."

Q. Some thought that with technology improving cameras and editing and sometimes making it cheaper to make indie films it might go the other way -- that quality might diminish with a more crowded field, why do you think quality is improving?

A. "There are a lot of factors. There is more of a community base now as to how they work. I am noticing much more a sharing of cinematographers, of actors and ideas.

"Also what is a happening is that independent filmmakers are looking at a different artistic life for themselves. They are not quite as fast or may never really want to jump to the big Hollywood film or situation for themselves. What a lot of people have learned and what is coming back in the younger filmmakers especially is they want to work in a way that makes them excited and fulfilled."   Continued...