PARK CITY, Utah, Jan. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The 2006 Sundance Film Festival kicked off today with a press conference featuring Robert Redford, President and Founder of Sundance Institute, Geoffrey Gilmore, Director of the Sundance Film Festival and Nicole Holofcener, writer and director of the Festival's Opening Night film FRIENDS WITH MONEY. As the premier showcase for the best new work of American independent and international filmmakers, the Sundance Film Festival screens films that embody creative risk-taking, diversity, and aesthetic innovation. The Festival runs from January 19-29, 2006, in Park City, Utah and marks the beginning of a year-long celebration of the 25th anniversary of Sundance Institute. Information on the Institute and coverage of the Festival is available online at www.sundance.org.
"While every year the Festival evolves and has a different complexion, the through line is the discovery of fresh, original voices from around the world with quality storytelling that takes risks whether it be in dramatic or documentary films," said Geoffrey Gilmore, Director of the Sundance Film Festival. "We found many talented first-time directors making inventive films in content and style and we're excited to share with audiences these American and international cinematic discoveries."
For the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, 120 feature dramatic and documentary films were selected including 85 world premieres, 18 North American premieres and 13 U.S. premieres representing 32 countries with 59 first time feature filmmakers. The Festival will also present 73 short films. Thirty-five features and 14 shorts were made by women, and 4 films by Native Americans. These films were selected from 3,148 feature submissions composed of 1,764 U.S. feature films and 1,384 international feature films. These numbers represent an increase from 2005 when 1,385 U.S. feature films and 1,228 international films were considered.
"Sundance is about storytelling. Storytellers can broaden our minds: engage, provoke, inspire, and ultimately, connect us. We have been fortunate to work with artists who embody the independent spirit and we're grateful to them for sharing their original stories and diverse voices," said Robert Redford, President and Founder of Sundance Institute. "The 2006 Sundance Film Festival kicks off the 25th anniversary of Sundance Institute, which works year round to support independent artists in film and theatre through its festival and development labs. While much has changed over these years, our mission has remained the same: discovering and developing independent artists and audiences. In this anniversary year we renew this commitment through a number of new initiatives to help filmmakers reach an even broader audience."
The Sundance Film Festival is a core program of Sundance Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated year-round to the discovery and development of independent film and theatre artists and audiences. 2006 marks the 22nd year of the Festival and the Institute's 25th anniversary.
A range of new initiatives to broaden audiences during the anniversary year was announced on the Festival's Opening Day, including a collaboration with the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) involving programming in film, theatre and film music; a special DVD collection of seminal films from past Sundance Film Festivals and Sundance Institute Filmmakers Labs; The Art House Project that brings film curators from across the U.S. to the Festival to showcase Sundance films for audiences in their own communities; and a series of free community screenings and alumni reunions for Sundance artists and advisors. The year of anniversary activities culminates in the 25th anniversary gala benefit in New York City this fall.
Throughout the Festival select panels will discuss the spectrum of independent work supported by the Festival and the Institute over the past 25 years; archival photos at official venues and parties will provide a glimpse of the Institute's and Festival's history; and two screenings of films from the Sundance Collection at UCLA will present important works in the history of independent film -- Wim Wenders' PARIS, TEXAS and Gus Van Sant's MALA NOCHE, which will be simultaneously broadcast via Intel's Wi-Max technology to auditoriums at NYU and UCLA.
Sundance Film Festival
The 2006 Sundance Film Festival will commence tonight with the Opening Night film, the World Premiere of FRIENDS WITH MONEY, written and directed by Nicole Holofcener and starring an ensemble cast that includes Jennifer Aniston, Scott Caan, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener and Frances McDormand.
"Nicole Holofcener is one of the finest independent filmmakers and this film is perhaps her most accomplished and appealing work to date," said Gilmore. "With a magnificent ensemble cast, FRIENDS WITH MONEY addresses both contemporary social issues and personal lives, a characteristic of many great movies and an exciting film to open this year's Festival."
"It is a real honor to have FRIENDS WITH MONEY selected as the opening film for the Festival and it is the perfect place to show it, because audiences here are used to less traditional, more character-driven stories," said screenwriter and director Nicole Holofcener. "From my own experience, both the Festival and the Institute have been incredibly supportive in helping me develop and exhibit my work. Fourteen years ago I workshopped WALKING AND TALKING in the Screenwriters and Directors Labs, where they encouraged me to take chances and hear my own voice."
Festival jurors were also introduced at the press conference, including: Documentary Competition - Joe Bini, Zana Briski, Andrew Jarecki, Alexander Payne and Heather Rae; Dramatic Competition - Miguel Arteta, Terrence Howard, Alan Rudolph, Nancy Schreiber and Audrey Wells; World Cinema Documentary Competition - Kate Amend, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade and Rachel Perkins; World Cinema Dramatic Competition - Irene Bignardi, Lu Chuan and Thomas Vinterberg; the Short Film Competition for American and international short films - Georgia Lee, Sydney Neter and John Vanco; as well as the Alfred P. Sloan Prize - Dr. Martha Farah, Dr. Antonio Damasio, John Underkoffler, Lynn Hershman Leeson and Greg Harrison.
"Our jurors are among the most accomplished individuals in the independent film world, ranging from directors and producers to actors and editors," said Gilmore. "We feel fortunate to have such a talented group of people acting as our jury members and value their perspective and judgment as they experience the diversity of independent films at the Festival and select those films demonstrating original voice and innovative filmmaking."
Gilmore then provided an overview of the Festival, referring to this year as truly a Festival of discovery. "Audiences will discover new talent -- in front of and behind the camera -- fresh stories from filmmakers with original voices. The range of US and World documentaries deal head-on with issues of our time including migration and immigration, the human toll of globalization, the conflict in Iraq and the fallout from the war at home. The diversity of films is also reflected in documentaries on topics from sleeplessness and crossword puzzles to punk rock and the film rating system."
The Festival will present 73 short films representing dramatic, documentary, and animated forms. Forty-five of the short films are American and 28 are international representing 17 countries. "Short films have always had an important role in cinema and at the Sundance Film Festival," said John Cooper, Sundance Film Festival Director of Programming. "As the tools required to create films have become more accessible, new voices have emerged, and the shorts program is a place to discover some of the most creative and challenging work being done today." In addition, www.sundance.org will present 49 short films premiering throughout the festival, as well as behind-the-scenes interviews with filmmakers and Festival coverage. All content will be available to audiences around the world free of charge at www.sundance.org starting January 19th.
Some of the key changes at this year's Festival include expanding the World Cinema Documentary section from 12 to 16 films and adding a new Documentary Film Editing Award for an American documentary screening in competition. The Spectrum section has been redefined, expanding in scope and size to present 24 out-of-competition dramatic and documentary films from some of the most promising new independent filmmakers from the U.S. and around the world. The new category draws from films previously in American Spectrum and Special Screenings.
Other Festival highlights include the Salt Lake City Gala on Friday, January 20, 2006 featuring the U.S. premiere of KINKY BOOTS, the directorial debut of Julian Jarrold, starring Joel Edgerton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nick Frost and Sarah-Jane Potts. KINKY BOOTS is a superb romantic comedy about a small town shoe factory finding new ways to manufacture their product to survive and the ways the factory workers must adapt.
In addition to the film screenings, the 2006 Sundance Film Festival will also feature a variety of panels and forums with filmmakers, industry leaders, journalists and scholars. The Festival provides a unique platform for discussing and debating an array of issues and topics addressed in the films or present in the independent film industry. Panel attendees at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival will be treated to lively conversations about entertainment and social change, on whether media coverage is driven by news organizations or their audiences, a discussion between Sam Shepard and Wim Wenders on their artistic collaboration, and professional development workshops for filmmakers, among other topics.
Source: Sundance Institute
Web site: http://www.sundance.org/