John Cooper, Director of Sundance Film Festival
The launch of the next realm of “Sundance” fills me with both pride and optimism. Frankly, I was getting weary of the ubiquitous chatter on “How digital cinema will change everything” not to mention the ever popular “Is independent cinema booming or dying?” depending on how you filled your glass. Cinema by its nature is always evolving. The emphasis on types of innovation swings between technology and storytelling from year to year.
From where I sit, what has stayed steady is the audience’s unrelenting urge for connection to great and authentic work. I have witnessed this magical moment of connection at the Sundance Film Festival for over twenty years. It is no longer a question of whether or not there is an audience for this work. (That is so 1990.) We know there is. At Sundance, the questions have been “How can that magical experience of ‘connecting’ be expanded and fortified?” and “How can Sundance, with its strong brand and not-for-profit status, help with this?”
In the end, we come back to the need for us to better serve, in all that we do, our greatest asset: the artist.
As the questions became more clear … the solution only became fuzzier. Over the past ten years we at Sundance jumped into the fray with everyone else. Test after test, with new delivery models (mostly with short films in early stages), our mission became twofold—not only looking to build new audiences but also looking for ways for our filmmakers to best sustain an “artists life.” This pipe dream of having a viable option for filmmakers to reach audiences beyond the ten days of the Festival began to loom large with possibility with the addition of our new Executive Director and a new team of professionals who understand what it takes. (And it takes a lot.)
As cinema evolves, so do we. I am not worried about what we still need to learn to make this venture a success. We are in this together. I am just so damn exited by the notion that we can even come close to realizing this dream. The gift that I’m able to give filmmakers each year—letting them know that their film will play at Sundance—no longer has an expiration date! I can’t wait to see what this will mean for all of you.