Attendance 150 Film submissions 150 features Films screened 86 Park City theatres 2 Festival staff 13
U.S. Film Festival
Sundance Institute assumed creative and administrative control of the U.S. Film Festival, expanded it to 10 days, and showcased American independent and international films, including: John Schlesinger ’s The Falcon and the Snowman, Robert Rosenberg and Greta Schiller’s Before Stonewall, William Duke ’s The Killing Floor, John Sayle’s Brother from Another Planet, Roland Joffé ’s The Killing Fields. Award-winning films included the Coen brothers’ debut film Blood Simple and Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger than Paradise.
Fun fact: Renowned documentary filmmakers Frederick Wiseman, D.A. Pennebaker, and Barbara Kopple (all 1985 jurors) and Rob Epstein participated on the “What’s Real” panel, which examined cinematic representation of reality.
Consumer Media Stats for 1985
- 21,147 cinema screens in the US
- 84.9 million US households have TVs
- 17.7 million US households have VCRs
Attendance 150 Film submissions ? Films screened 83 Park City theatres 2 Festival staff 14
Behind the Headlines
Highlights from the Festival included spotlights on Orson Welles and Ron Mann, an Australian independent cinema showcase, and panels on marketing documentaries, screenwriting, financing, and distribution. Notable films included Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters, Bill Sherwood’s Parting Glances, Lee Shapiro’s Nicaragua Was Our Home, and Ray Lawrence’s Bliss. Smooth Talk, directed by Joyce Chopra and starring Laura Dern and Treat Williams, won the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize.
Fun fact: The Festival’s programmers briefly considered eliminating the competition format in favor of a “celebration” of American independent film.
Consumer Media Stats for 1986
Attendance 150 Film submissions ? Films screened 83 Park City theatres 3 Festival staff 14
A Next Wave
Festival highlights included panels on first-time filmmakers, Canada’s next wave, and actors on acting, as well as premieres of Jim McBride’s The Big Easy, Jean-Jacques Beineix’s Betty Blue, Atom Egoyan’s Next of Kin, David Anspaugh’s Hoosiers, Gary Walkow’s Trouble with Dick, Jill Godmilow’s Waiting for the Moon, Barbara Margolis’s Are We Winning, Mommy?, and David Jones’s 84 Charing Cross Road. Award winners included Ross McElwee’s Sherman’s March and Lizzie Borden’s Working Girls.
Fun fact: The first year of the United States Film Festival in Japan intended to expose new films to the Japanese public, foster creative exchange, and create opportunities for independent filmmakers in the Japanese market.
Consumer Media Stats for 1987
Attendance 150 Film submissions ? Films screened 99 Park City theatres 3 Festival staff 15
Superstar Short Films
The Festival honored Sam Fuller, showcased new Argentine cinema, and screened nearly 100 films, among them Bruce Weber’s Broken Noses, Louis Malle’s Au Revoir Les Enfants, Michael Hoffman’s Promised Land, Norman Jewison’s Moonstruck, John Waters’s Hairspray, Beth and George Gage’s Fire on the Mountain, and Rob Nilsson’s Heat and Sunlight. Award winners included Jennifer Fox’s Beirut: The Last Home Movie, Bill Couturie’s Dear America, and Jerry Rees’s The Brave Little Toaster.
Fun fact:Short films were screened as part of the debut of the Discovery Program for emerging filmmakers, Rogues Gallery, and Best of American Animation. Todd Haynes’s Superstar premiered in the Rogues Gallery.
Consumer Media Stats for 1988
Attendance 150 Film submissions ? Films screened 97 Park City theatres 3 Festival staff 22
sex, lies, and Heathers
The Festival opened with a restoration of F.W. Murnau's 1927 film, Sunrise and continued with a tribute to John Cassavetes and screenings of notable works including Christian Blackwood’s Motel, Martin Donovan’s Apartment Zero, Michael Lehmann’s Heathers, Jonathan Wacks’s Powwow Highway, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s Letters from the Park, and Nancy Savoca’s True Love. Steven Soderbergh’s sex, lies, and videotape won the inaugural Audience Award and, after winning the Palme d’Or, became the most successful independent film of its time.
Fun fact: Nobel Prize–winning writer Gabriel García Marquéz spearheaded the Festival's continuing exploration of Latin American film, overseeing the creation of six feature-length works based on his stories.
Consumer Media Stats for 1989
- AVID nonlinear editing system publically introduced
- 14.1 million households have PCs
Attendance 150 Film submissions ? Films screened 121 Park City theatres 3 Festival staff 27
A Human Face on the AIDS Crisis
The Sundance U.S. Film Festival featured tributes to Richard Lester and Melvin Van Peebles and special sections showcasing Colombian and Kazakhstani film. Notable films included Jane Campion’s Sweetie, Michael Moore’s Roger and Me, Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan, and Charles Burnett’s To Sleep with Anger. Award winners included Wendell B. Harris’s Chameleon Street and Norman Rene’s Longtime Companion, a groundbreaking film supported by the Institute labs, widely considered the first film to put a human face on the AIDS crisis.
Fun fact: House Party, directed by Reginald Hudlin and based on the short film of the same title, won both the Filmmaker Trophy and the Excellence in Cinematography Award in the dramatic category.
Consumer Media Stats for 1990
- 23,689 cinema screens in the US
- 92.1million US households have TVs
- 63.2 million US households have VCRs
Attendance 150 Film submissions ? Films screened 129 Park City theatres 3 Festival staff 30
From Slackers to Dreamers
The Festival presented retrospectives on Michael Powell and Robert Altman and featured special sections for Japanese cinema, Latin America film, and the history of character animation. Panels included topics on women directors and art and politics. Notable films included Stephen Frears’s The Grifters, John Sayles’s City of Hope, Todd Haynes’s Poison, Matty Rich’s Straight Out of Brooklyn, and Hal Hartley’s Trust. Barbara Kopple’s documentary American Dream swept the Audience Award, Filmmaker Trophy, and Grand Jury Prize.
Fun fact: The Festival was officially renamed the Sundance Film Festival, and the Park City at Midnight section and Shorts Programs as we know them today were introduced.
Consumer Media Stats for 1991
- Adobe introduces initial version of Premiere
Attendance 150 Film submissions 250 features Films screened 134 Park City theatres 3 Festival staff 29
From Anders to Zhang
The Festival’s notable screenings included Mira Nair’s Mississippi Masala, Derek Jarman’s Edward II, Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth, and Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Delicatessen. Retrospectives for Stanley Kubrick and Zhang Yimou were showcased, the Discovery Program of short films was presented, and the competition section had an eclectic variety of film including Errol Morris’s A Brief History of Time, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s Brother’s Keeper, Les Blank’s Innocents Abroad, Allison Anders’s Gas, Food, and Lodging, Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, and Neal Jimenez and Michael Steinberg’s The Waterdance.
Fun fact: Before its premiere at the Festival, Quentin Tarantino and Steve Buscemi attended the 1991 Sundance Institute Directors Lab with Reservoir Dogs.
Consumer Media Stats for 1992
Attendance 150 Film submissions 250 features Films screened 141 Park City theatres 3 Festival staff 36
Sally Potter’s Orlando, Peter Friedman and Tom Joslin’s Silverlake Life: The View from Here, and Alfonso Arau’s Like Water for Chocolate all premiered during the 1993 Festival. Leslie Harris’s Just Another Girl on the I.R.T., Victor Nunez’s Ruby in Paradise, and Michael Mann’s Public Access were among the award winners, and filmmakers Philip Kaufman and Christian Blackwood were honored with retrospectives of their work. Panels covered topics ranging from regional filmmaking to the next generation of filmmakers.
Fun fact: Wes Anderson’s 13-minute short Bottle Rocket screened during the 1993 Festival, and his feature-length version of the film was supported by the Institute’s Screenwriters Lab in the same year.
Consumer Media Stats for 1993
Attendance 150 Film submissions 325 features Films screened 169 Park City theatres 3 Festival staff 45
Spotlight on Native American Artists
Sundance Institute affirmed its commitment to Native American filmmakers by launching a Festival program to showcase Native and Indigenous films from around the world. Panels covered topics on interactivity and cinema and the fate of short film. Lodge Kerrigan’s Clean Shaven, Rose Troche’s Go Fish, and Mike Newell’s Four Weddings and a Funeral were among many films that saw box-office success and critical acclaim. Award winners included Steve James’s Hoop Dreams and David O. Russell’s Spanking the Monkey.
Fun fact: Director Guillermo del Toro premiered his first feature-length film, Cronos, during the 1994 Festival.
Consumer Media Stats for 1994
Attendance 150 Film submissions 375 features Films screened 172 Park City theatres 4 Festival staff 51
Asian, European, and Latin American Cinema
The Festival screened many films to sold-out crowds. Among the premieres were Antonia Bird’s Priest, Abel Ferrara’s The Addiction, Mina Shum’s Double Happiness, and Tomas Gutierrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabio’s Strawberry and Chocolate. In addition to sidebars for Asian, European, and Latin American film, the Festival presented programs devoted to the personal documentary genre and animation. Award-winning films included Terry Zwigoff’s Crumb, Ed Burns’s The Brothers McMullen, and Tom DiCillo’s Living in Oblivion.
Fun fact: Sundance Film Festival in China marked the first festival of American independent film in China. The American delegation included Quentin Tarantino, Allison Anders, and Ethan Coen, among others.
Consumer Media Stats for 1995
- 27,805 cinema screens in the US
- 95.4 million US households had TVs
- 75.8 million US households had VCRs
Attendance 15,504 Film submissions 1,950
(750 features, 1,200 shorts) Films screened 184 Park City theatres 5 Festival staff 70
Exploring New Frontiers
Scott Hicks’s Australian biopic Shine and Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott’s Big Night went on to capture the public consciousness. The Sundance/NHK Filmmakers Award was introduced to support the next generation of independent filmmakers from four global regions: USA, Europe, Latin America, and Japan. Walter Salles was among the inaugural winners for Central Station, which went on to critical acclaim. Award winners included Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s The Celluloid Closet and Leon Gast’s When We Were Kings.
Fun fact: The World Cinema, New Frontier, and American Spectrum sections were introduced.
Consumer Media Stats for 1996
Attendance 17,242 Film submissions 815 features Films screened 199 Park City theatres 5 Festival staff 114
Cinematic and Vivid, Elusive and Ephemeral
The Festival continued to attract crowds, international attention, and alumni filmmakers. Many of the Premiere section filmmakers were returning directors—Errol Morris, Tom DiCillo, Victor Nunez, Gregg Araki, and Kevin Smith. A major retrospective of the works of German New-Wave director Rainer Werner Fassbinder was presented, and panels examined theatre to film, cyberspace, and the impact of documentary film. Award winners included Neil LaBute’s In the Company of Men, Arthur Dong’s Licensed to Kill, and Theodore Witcher’s Love Jones.
Fun fact: Strays, actor Vin Diesel’s feature-length directorial debut, premiered during the 1997 Festival.
Consumer Media Stats for 1997
Attendance 19,003 Film submissions 2,538
(1,059 features, 1,479 shorts) Films screened 187 Park City theatres 6 Festival staff 100
Actors Behind the Camera
The Festival added 1,300 additional seats with the Eccles Theatre; presented panels on digital filmmaking, avant-garde film, and reinventing genre film, and saw the rise of the actor/director, with Timothy Hutton, Sara Gilbert, Vincent Gallo, Greg German, and Saul Rubinek moving behind the camera. Christina Ricci grew up with very adult performances in Don Roos’s The Opposite of Sex and Vincent Gallo’s Buffalo 66. Award winners included Lisa Cholodenko’s High Art, Darren Aronofsky’s PI, and Marc Levin’s Slam.
Fun fact: Institute lab-supported Smoke Signals, directed by Chris Eyre and written by Sherman Alexie, premiered and won the Audience Award and Filmmakers Award. It was not only the first film written, directed, co-produced by, and starring Native Americans, but also the first Native film to receive a commercial release.
Consumer Media Stats for 1998
Attendance 20,014 Film submissions 3,055
(1,325 features, 1,730 shorts) Films screened 185 Park City theatres 6 Festival staff 129
Blurring the Lines between Fact and Fiction
Notable premieres included Rory Kennedy’s American Hollow, Allen and Albert Hughes’s American Pimp, Doug Liman’s Go, and Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Panels examined distribution for low-budget films, music and narrative, and documentary funding. Chris Smith’s American Movie, Eric Mendelsohn’s Judy Berlin, and Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgan’s On the Ropes were among award winners, and a small Midnight film, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez’s The Blair Witch Project, saw huge box-office success.
Fun fact: Institute lab-supported film Three Seasons, directed by Tony Bui, was the first feature film shot in Vietnam by a Vietnamese American writer/director and went on to win the Grand Jury Prize, Audience Award, and Excellence in Cinematography Award and opened to critical acclaim.
Consumer Media Stats for 1999
- 12 digital cinema screens in the US
- Apple introduces Final Cut Pro
- Netflix launches its monthly subscription service
Attendance 20,802 Film submissions 3,628
(1,650 features, 1,978 shorts) Films screened 197 Park City theatres 6 Festival staff 133
The Rise of Digital
Kenneth Lonergan’s You Can Count on Me, Karyn Kusama’s Girlfight, Sophia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides, Rodrigo Garcia’s Things You Can Tell by Just Looking at Her, Mary Harron’s American Psycho, But I’m a Cheerleader, and Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato’s The Eyes of Tammy Faye were among the many films audiences discovered on the screens of the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. The Festival saw and embraced the rising influence of digital content with streaming video, digital projection of over 18 films, and the popularity of Miguel Arteta’s digital feature Chuck and Buck.
Fun fact: The Gen-Y Studio was introduced as a gathering place for high school students from around the country to share ideas, explore film, experience new film technology, and converse with Festival filmmakers and industry professionals.
Consumer Media Stats for 2000
- 37,396 cinema screens in the US
- 31 digital cinema screens in the US
- 102.2 million US households have TVs
- 88.1 million US households have VCRs
- 13 million US households have DVD players
- 51 million US households have PCs
- 41.5 million US households have internet
- 4.4 million US households have broadband
- .2 million US households have VOD
- 29.6 million US households have cell phones
Attendance 22,506 Film submissions 3,934
(1,760 features, 2,174 shorts) Films screened 220 Park City theatres 6 Festival staff 200
The Festival continued to recognize the rise of digital filmmaking with the launch of the Sundance Online Film Festival and by projecting 40 of the year’s films with digital technology. Programmatically, 2001 introduced many films that would soon become cult classics. Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko, David Wain’s Wet Hot American Summer, Jay Chandrasekhar’s Super Troopers, Jonathan Glazer’s Sexy Beast, Richard Linklater’s Waking Life, Christopher Nolan’s Memento, John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Stacy Peralta’s Dogtown and Z-Boys, and Alison Anders’s Things Behind the Sun were among the titles introduced by the 2001 Festival.
Fun fact: The Sundance Online Film Festival, showcasing the best in new short films and retrospective work specifically created for the web, received over 3.3 million hits.
Consumer Media Stats for 2001
Attendance 20,435 Film submissions 3,840
(1,740 features, 2,100 shorts) Films screened 239 Park City theatres 7 Festival staff 152
Art Is to Make Silence Speak
“I thought I had seen everything, but I will leave here astonished,” is how jury member John Waters described his experience at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. Audiences were treated to a program that included Steven Shainberg’s Secretary, Gary Winick’s Tadpole, Miguel Arteta’s The Good Girl, Nanette Bernstein and Brett Morgen’s The Kid Stays in the Picture, Patricia Cardoso’s Real Women Have Curves, Todd Luioso’s Love Liza, Liz Garbus’s The Execution of Wanda Jean, Justin Lin’s Better Luck Tomorrow, and Rebecca Miller’s Personal Velocity.
Fun fact: What is now known as SIO (Sundance Industry Office) was introduced as the Sales Office, created to further support filmmakers and help facilitate communication and interaction with the industry.
Consumer Media Stats for 2002
Attendance 38,707 Film submissions 5,368
(2,023 features, 3,345 shorts) Films screened 250 Park City theatres 6 Festival staff 174
West Meets East
Unseasonably warm weather attracted record attendance to the Festival that introduced audiences to films including Wayne Kramer’s The Cooler, Jim Sheridan’s In America, Lisa Cholodenko’s Laurel Canyon, Peter Hedge’s Pieces of April, Peter Sollett’s Raising Victor Vargas, Catherine Hardwicke’s thirteen, Tom McCarthy’s The Station Agent, and David Gordon Green’s All the Real Girls. The power of the nonfiction form was illustrated with documentaries including Andrew Jarecki’s Capturing the Friedmans, Stanley Nelson’s The Murder of Emmitt Till, Sam Green and Bill Siegel’s The Weather Underground, and Weijan Chen’s To Live is Better Than to Die, a depiction of the AIDS crisis in China.
Fun fact: Bend it Like Beckham screened in the World Cinema section and went on to be the first Western film to be shown on North Korean television.
Consumer Media Stats for 2003
Attendance 36,656 Film submissions 5,874
(2,485 features, 3,389 shorts) Films screened 256 Park City theatres 6 Festival staff 179
Saw and Seen
With Shane Curruth’s Primer, Ondi Timoner’s DIG!, Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me, Josh Marsden’s Maria Full of Grace, Zach Braff’s Garden State, Jared Hess’s Napoleon Dynamite, and many more, the 2004 Film Festival presented the directorial debuts of filmmakers who continued to deliver for audiences around the world. Documentaries like Jessica Yu’s In the Realms of the Unreal and Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman’s Born Into Brothels showcased the transformative power of art, resonating with audiences in Park City and beyond.
Fun fact: Progenitor of an entire series of gory horror flicks, Saw premiered as part of the 2004 Festival’s Park City at Midnight program.
Consumer Media Stats for 2004
Attendance 46,771 Film submissions 6,500
(2,613 features, 3,887 shorts) Films screened 237 Park City theatres 7 Festival staff 192
World Cinema Competition
Solidifying its commitment to showcasing original storytelling from around the world, the Festival launched its World Cinema Competition in 2005. Jun Ichikawa’s Tony Takitani (Japan), Suzanne Bier’s Brothers (Denmark), Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man (Portugal), and Roger Spottiswoode’s Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Romeo Dallaire (Canada) were among the films presented in the inaugural international competition. Filmmakers working in the US gave us films including Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know, Craig Brewer’s Hustle and Flow, Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale, Henry Rubin and Dana Shapiro’s Murderball, and Luc Jacquet’s March of the Penguins. For the first time, the Festival presented a selection from its Short Film Program online, marking a convergence of the Festival's commitment to short films and its continued efforts to extend the Festival experience to audiences online.
Fun fact: Hours before the Opening Night screening in Park City, the power line to the Eccles Center was severed. Festival staff had backup generators at the ready, but utility crews restored power in time for the Festival to start without a hitch.
Consumer Media Stats for 2005
- 38,143 cinema screens in the US
- 324 digital cinema screens in the US
- 109.6 million US households have TVs
- 98.9 million US households have VCRs
- 75.9 million US households have PCs
- 4.2 million Netflix members
- 80.4 million US households have cellphones
Attendance 52,849 Film submissions 7,359
(3,048 features, 4,311 shorts) Films screened 224 Park City theatres 7 Festival staff 135
One Million Views
Highlights of the 2006 Film Festival included Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’s Little Miss Sunshine, Davis Guggenheim’s An Inconvenient Truth, Jason Reitman’s Thank You for Smoking, Kelly Reichardt’s Old Joy, and Patrick Creadon’s Wordplay. Documentaries focused on artists ranging from musicians Neil Young and Leonard Cohen to painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, photographer William Eggleston, and playwright Tony Kushner. The Beastie Boys turned the camera on their fans with Awesome: I Fuckin’ Shot That. Attendance at Festival theatres reached record levels, and online audiences downloaded more than 1,000,000 short films and original content episodes from the Festival’s official site.
Fun fact: Festival-related videos rapidly became one of the most popular features on the Institute’s website, with views first surpassing the one-million mark shortly after the close of the 2006 Festival.
Consumer Media Stats for 2006
Attendance 48,298 Film submissions 7,732
(3,287 features, 4,445 shorts) Films screened 271 Park City theatres 8 Festival staff 122
A New Frontier
Audiences discovered stories from around the world and from their own backyards with films such as Sarah Polley’s Away From Her, Lincoln Ruchti’s Chasing Ghosts, James C. Strouse’s Grace is Gone, John Carney’s Once, Jason Kohn’s Manda Bala (Send a Bullet), Charles Ferguson’s No End in Sight, Rory Kennedy’s Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, Sean Fine and Andrea Nix’s War/Dance, and many more. Award winners included Jeffrey Blitz’s Rocket Science, Christopher Zalla’s Padre Nuestro, and David Sington’s In the Shadow of the Moon.
Fun fact: The Festival’s long-standing commitment to experimental cinema expanded with the introduction of New Frontier, a venue devoted to artists working at the intersection of film, art, and technology.
Consumer Media Stats for 2007
- Netflix introduces its streaming service
Attendance 45,056 Film submissions 8,731
(3,624 features, 5,107 shorts) Films screened 210 Park City theatres 8 Festival staff 143
Film Takes Place
Films from 35 countries were represented in the 2008 program. Further punctuating the Festival’s role as a platform for filmmakers worldwide, the first-ever independent feature film from Jordan, Captain Abu Raed, directed by Amin Matalqa, took home the Audience Award. The eclectic lineup was further marked by films as varied as Courtney Hunt’s Frozen River, Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s Sugar, James Marsh’s Man on Wire, Carl Deal and Tia Lesson’s Trouble the Water, Marina Zenovich’s Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind, Brad Anderson’s Transiberrean, Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington’s U23D, and George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead.
Fun fact: The World Cinema Jury Prizes for directing, cinematography, editing, and screenwriting were first awarded in 2008.
Consumer Media Stats for 2008
Attendance 40,291 Film submissions 9,293
(3,661 features, 5,632 shorts) Films screened 218 Park City theatres 9 Festival staff 154
25 Years of Where the Next Begins
The 25th edition of the Sundance Film Festival presented 218 films, 42 of which were made by first-time directors. Films ranging from Cary Fukunaga’s Sin Nombre to Adam Elliot’s Mary and Max, Lee Daniel’s Precious, and documentaries like Ondi Timoner’s We Live in Public, Louis Psihoyos’s The Cove, and Havana Marking’s Afghan Star thrilled audiences in Park City and beyond. In a nod to the history of independent film, Steven Soderbergh returned to the Festival to screen sex, lies, and videotape, which 20 years prior received the Dramatic Audience Award and achieved a new level of industry and mainstream attention for an independent film.
Fun fact: In the documentary Passing Strange, filmmaker Spike Lee captured the eponymous Broadway musical show, itself developed by singer/songwriter Stew at Sundance Institute’s Theatre Lab.
Consumer Media Stats for 2009
Attendance 41,221 Film submissions 9,843
(3,751 features, 6,092 shorts) Films screened 191 Park City theatres 9 Festival staff 232
Longtime programmer John Cooper assumed the role of Festival director, and a sense of renewal defined the Festival as a whole. The program itself was revitalized with the inception of NEXT, a category featuring films marked by uncompromised vision and originality. Highlights of the lineup included the riveting war doc Restrepo, directed by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger; the exploration of America’s education system Waiting for Superman by Davis Guggenheim; Debra Granik’s eventual Oscar nominee Winter’s Bone; the intensely thrilling Animal Kingdom, directed by David Michôd; and Gaspar Noe’s intensely bizarre Enter the Void.
Fun fact: During the 2010 Festival, graffiti artist Banksy—the subject of the documentary Exit through the Gift Shop—surprised Park City and Salt Lake residents with strategically hidden, film-themed street art.
Consumer Media Stats for 2010
- 39,547 cinema screens in the US
- 16,522 digital cinema screens in the US/Canada
- 114.9 millions US households had TVs
- 70.6 million US households had VCRs
- 100.2 million US households had DVD players
- 91.7 million US households had PCs
- 71.1 millions US households had internet
- 68.2 million US households had broadband
- 53.9 million US households had VOD
- 20 million Netflix members
- 105.6 million US households had cell phones
Attendance 45,797 Film submissions 10,279
(3,812 features, 6,467 shorts) Films screened 200 Park City theatres 8 Festival staff 238
The 2011 Sundance Film Festival played host to 25 first-time filmmakers in the Dramatic and Documentary Competitions, had a record 78 film sales, and introduced an all-new Documentary Premieres category, showcasing the work of established masters of the craft. The slate was marked by award winners such as Drake Doremus’s Like Crazy, Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene, Constance Marks’s Being Elmo, and Peter Richardson’s How to Die in Oregon, and it featured breakout performances from actresses Elizabeth Olsen, Felicity Jones, and Brit Marling. Michael Moore, Harry Belafonte, Vera Farmiga, and the Chapin Sisters were among the highlights of the Offscreen program.
Fun fact: The snowflake logo for the 2011 Festival was composed of hundreds of individual symbols, each representing an iconic film or aspect of the Festival experience.
Consumer Media Stats for 2011
- UltraViolet launched in the US and UK
Attendance 46,731 Film submissions 11,717
(4,042 features, 7,675 shorts) Films screened 187 Park City theatres 9 Festival staff 211
Influential documentaries such as Lauren Greenfield’s The Queen of Versailles, Susan Froemke and Matthew Heineman’s Escape Fire, and Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s Detropia depicted the effects of economic turmoil across the nation, while narrative features like James Ponsoldt’s Smashed, Ry Russo-Young’s Nobody Walks and Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild showcased masterful storytelling from first-time directors. Offscreen highlights included a performance by Ice-T in conjunction with the premiere of his directorial debut, Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap, and panels and discussions with director Spike Lee, journalist David Carr, and actress Julie Delpy, among others. Nonny de la Peña’s Hunger in Los Angeles was presented in the New Frontier section. The invitation prompted de la Peña’s intern Palmer Luckey to create a mobile version of a VR headset, which became an early manifestation of Oculus Rift, marking the beginning of the multibillion dollar gold rush among the technology, gaming, and film industries to bring viable virtual reality to the masses.
Fun fact: Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild was supported by the Institute labs, won the Festival Grand Jury Prize and Excellence in Cinematography Award, and went on to be nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Directing, Leading Actress, and Writing (Adapted Screenplay).
Consumer Media Stats for 2012
- 42,803 cinema screens in the US/Canada
- 36,377 digital cinema screens in the US/Canada
- 63.8 million US households had VOD
- Over 30 million Netflix members globally
- 122 million smartphone users in the US
Attendance 45,947 Film submissions 12,146
(4,044 features, 8,102 shorts) Films screened 193 Park City theatres 9 Festival staff 232
New Paths, New Stories
For the first time in the Festival’s history, both juries and audiences selected the same films in the U.S. Dramatic and U.S. Documentary Competitions for their top awards: Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale and Steve Hoover’s Blood Brother both took home the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for best dramatic and documentary, respectively. Half of the films in the U.S. Dramatic Competition were directed and written by women, most of them first-time filmmakers. Richard Linklater returned to the Festival with the third chapter in his great cinematic love story Before Midnight. Award-winning, acclaimed documentarians Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, Frieda Mock, Lucy Walker, Robert Stone, Barbara Kopple, and Alex Gibney all screened their latest efforts. Other audience favorites were Jeff Nichols’s Mud and Sarah Polley’s hybrid documentary Stories We Tell.
Fun fact: Between 1985 and 2013, approximately 20 million feet of 35mm film were screened at the Festival. Stretched end to end, the film would reach from New York to Paris.
Consumer Media Stats for 2013
Attendance 45,352 Film submissions 12,218
(4,057 features, 8,161 shorts) Films screened 186 Park City theatres 9 Festival staff 223
Thirty Years Of Different
On the 30th anniversary of the Festival, Sundance Institute president and founder Robert Redford spoke about how the Sundance Film Festival had evolved over the previous three decades. “Change is inevitable. You either resist it—we know who those people are—or you go with it,” he said. “We want to ride with that wave.” Celebrating 30 years of independent storytelling, the Festival explored an always feared, often denied, but most vital aspect of the creative process—failure—with FREE FAIL, a day of panels, workshops, and special events. New to 2014 was the Kids section, designed for independent film’s youngest fans. Standout films of the Festival included Obvious Child, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Skeleton Twins, God Help the Girl, Rich Hill, 20,000 Days on Earth, and Boyhood, while the unique history of baseball was showcased in both The Battered Bastards of Baseball and No No: A Dockumentary. The undead was a common theme 2014 with What We Do in the Shadows, Life After Beth, Jamie Marks Is Dead, Only Lovers Left Alive, and Dead Snow; Red vs. Dead.
Fun fact: Damien Chazelle‘s Whiplash won both the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and U.S. Dramatic Audience Award and went on to win three Academy Awards, including best supporting actor for J.K. Simmons’s performance as Terence Fletcher, the brutally savage music instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential.
Consumer Media Stats for 2014
- Facebook purchased Oculus VR for $2 billion
Attendance 46,100 Film submissions 12,166
(4,105 features, 8,061 shorts) Films screened 183 Park City theatres 9 Festival staff 236
Me and Earl and the Art of Film
Exploring cinema and highlighting the unique roles that bring stories to life on screen, Art of Film Weekend was introduced to take aspiring filmmakers and film-loving audiences behind the scenes to see the creative, collaborative spirit of artists at every stage of the creative process that’s core to the Festival. The annual A Celebration of Music in Film concert was a tribute to jazz icon Nina Simone, the subject of What Happened, Miss Simone?,and featured Common, Erykah Badu, Aloe Blacc, Kate Davis, Andra Day, and Al Schackman. Popular with both jurors and audiences, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl won both the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award, while The Wolfpack won the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize and Meru received the U.S. Documentary Audience Award. The World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize and World Cinema Dramatic Grand Jury Prize went to The Russian Woodpecker and Slow West, respectively.
Fun fact: Nearly 20 years before premiering Dope and winning the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Excellence in Editing at the 2015 Festival, Rick Famuyiwa premiered his first film, the short Blacktop Lingo, at the 1996 Festival. Famuyiwa also attended the 1997 Sundance Institute Directors and Screenwriters Labs with The Wood, which was released in theatres in 1999.
Consumer Media Stats for 2015
- 43,661 cinema screens in the US/Canada
- 42,552 digital cinema screens in the US/Canada
- 108,481 cinema screens internationally
- 98,498 digital cinema screens internationally
- 116.4 million US households had TVs
- 72.9 million US household had SVOD
- 88.1 billion US online movie & TV views/transactions
- 74.8 million Netflix subscribers globally
- 187.5 million smartphone users in the US
- $18 billion in US home entertainment spending
Attendance 46,660 Film submissions 12,793
(4,081 features, 8,712 shorts) Films screened 195 Park City theatres 9 Festival staff 231
“Diversity comes out of independence. If you’re independent minded, you’re going to do things different from the common form, and you’re going to have more diverse products.” —Robert Redford
A major story of the Festival became The Birth of a Nation , the impassioned and incendiary feature chronicling the life and death of Nat Turner, the Virginia slave and preacher who led an improbable collective uprising against white masters. The film was met by standing ovations at all of its screenings, and it was sold for a record-breaking sum to Fox Searchlight. Another story that arose was the formal diversity of the 2016 program. Among the 123 narrative and documentary features, there seemed to be a critical mass of films that didn’t easily fit into traditional competition categories. Films like Kate Plays Christine, All These Sleepless Nights, Sonita, and Nuts! sought to expand the definition of the documentary, while The Fits, from the NEXT section, brought fabulist storytelling to a real-life cast and location. New for 2016 was the Special Events section, an evolving category that included episodic work, short films, and live performances. The Birth of a Nation and Sonita won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award, marking the third time in Festival history that films from two categories each won both awards. Other top awards went to Between Sea and Land, First Girl I Loved, Jim: The James Foley Story, Sand Storm, and Weiner.
Fun fact: New Frontier celebrated its 10th anniversary of cutting-edge media, fine art, and the vast potential and possibilities of storytelling with the presentation of nearly 40 VR works.
Attendance 71,600 Film submissions 13,053
(4,068 features, 8,985 shorts) Films screened 181 Park City theatres 9 Festival staff 224
Mr. Pink Meets Patti Cake$
The 2017 Festival brought environmentalism front and center, with 14 films and virtual reality experiences on the subject—including follow-up films Chasing Coral (Jeff Orlowski's sequel to Chasing Ice) and Al Gore's much-anticipated Day One film An Inconvenient Sequel. And 25 years after its Sundance premiere, Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs returned for a special anniversary screening as part of the From the Collection category. Other highlights included culture-clash love story The Big Sick, Ferguson uprising documentary Whose Streets?, absurdist crime movie I don't feel at home in this world anymore., Jordan Peele's surprise Midnight screening Get Out, and, one year after the big success of Sonita, two new films about female rappers: Patti Cake$ and Roxanne Roxanne. Off of the screen, an independently organized Women's March featuring such speakers as Dolores Huerta, Chelsea Handler, and Jessica Williams brought an estimated 8,000 people to crowd Main Street on the third day of the Festival (the second day of Donald Trump's presidency), joining millions of others across the country in similar demonstrations.
Fun fact: The 2017 Festival saw heavy snowfall, a power outage that caused screenings at three theatres to be rescheduled, and a cyberattack that halted ticket sales—but not even that trifecta of misfortunes could stop the Festival from going on as planned.
Attendance 124,900 Film submissions 13,468
(3,901 features, 8,740 shorts) Films screened 192 Park City theatres 10 Festival staff 246
Small Screen Goes Big
Recognizing the increasing demand for serial content, the 2018 Festival introduced the Indie Episodic section specifically for stories told in multiple installments. And to house even more screenings in Park City for the ever-growing Festival, the Institute converted a sporting goods store into a new permanent 500-seat theater, The Ray—the basement of which became a New Frontier exhibition space that included a 40-seat mobile VR cinema.
Also making its debut in 2018 was the new Festival Favorite Award, determined by audience ballots from all Festival screenings, which went to the Kids documentary Science Fair. The U.S. Dramatic and Documentary Grand Jury Prizes were awarded to The Miseducation of Cameron Post (directed by Desiree Akhavan) and Kailash (directed by Derek Doneen), respectively, while the biggest sale of the year was Sam Levinson’s Midnight hit Assassination Nation for more than $10 million.
Fun fact: Eliza McNitt’s Spheres, a three-part VR series that lets viewers explore the center of a black hole, is purchased for seven-figures, a first for a VR project at the Festival.
Attendance 122,313 Submissions 14,259
(4,018 features, 9,443 shorts,Projects shown 242 Park City theatres 10 Festival staff 274
471 episodic, 327 VR)
Powerhouse Women Take Center Stage
As Kim Yutani took the reins as the new director of programming, the 2019 Festival made huge strides toward the Institute’s commitment to inclusion—with 41% of films directed by people of color, 17% by people who identified as LGBTQ+, and 45% by women.
Some of the buzziest women-helmed films included two of the Festival’s biggest deal earners—Nisha Ganatra’s Late Night and Gurinder Chadha’s Blinded by the Light—along with Chinonye Chukwu’s U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize–winning Clemency and Lulu Wang’s The Farewell.
A slew of documentaries also made big waves, not the least of which were Special Jury Award winner APOLLO 11, featuring never-before-seen archival footage of the moon landing mission, and Festival Favorite Knock Down the House, which chronicled the journeys of four female political newcomers in the 2018 midterm elections, including youngest-ever Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Fun fact: The 2019 Festival saw an unusual bunch of surprise special guests walk the press lines, including an alien lizard, dog, robot, and astronaut.
Consumer Media Stats for 2019
- 43,681 cinema screens in the US/Canada*
- 151,601 cinema screens internationally*
- 120.6 million US household had TVs
- 95.2 million US households had SVOD
- 235.8 billion US online movie & TV views/transactions
- 167 million Netflix subscribers globally
- 269.44 million smartphone users in the US
- $25.2 billion US home entertainment spending
- *Virtually all of the world's cinema screens were digital.
Attendance 116,800 Submissions 15,000
(3,853 features, 10,397 shorts, 495 episodic, 355 VR)Projects shown 244 Park City theatres 10 Festival staff 311
Among the 2020 program’s award-winning films were Lee Isaac Chung’s coming-of-age immigrant story Minari and Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham’s disability-rights documentary Crip Camp, while the U.S. Dramatic Directing Award went to first-time feature director Radha Blank, who also wrote, starred, and rapped in The 40-Year-Old Version. Notable Festival guests included Hillary Clinton and Gloria Steinem, each of whom had a biographical story (documentary and narrative, respectively) premiering in Park City.
To celebrate the beginning of the decade, the new Imagined Futures series highlighted the possibilities of an equitable future with panels and special screenings, culminating in a communal bonfire gathering. And at the close of the Festival, longtime Documentary Film Program director Tabitha Jackson was announced as the incoming Festival director in light of John Cooper’s retirement—marking the first time in the Institute’s history that the position went to a woman.
Fun fact: The New Frontier project Spaced Out brought audiences into the swimming pool at the Park City Sheraton for a floating outer-space simulation.
Audience Views 600,000+ Submissions 14,092
Projects shown 141
The pandemic led the Institute to reimagine the festival experience and offer the 2021 Sundance Film Festival digitally for the first time via a custom-designed online platform alongside screenings at local cinemas and arts organizations across the U.S. in the form of Satellite Screens. Huge strides in accessibility led to tripled attendance, with audiences from all 50 states and 120 countries, and industry praise for setting a high standard in user experience for screenings. The all-new New Frontier Spaceship experience allowed artists and Festivalgoers to mingle, watch performances, and view VR projects in a virtual space.
Comedian and actor Patton Oswalt hosted the online Awards Night Ceremony, where the top prizes were presented to Sian Heder’s CODA, Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s Summer Of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), and Blerta Basholli’s Hive, among many others.
Fun fact: During the “Barbed Wire Kisses Redux” Big Conversation, B. Ruby Rich reassembled the titans who spoke at the 1992 Festival (a watershed year for LGBTQ+ cinema that gave rise to the term “New Queer Cinema”)—and invited a few guests from the next generation.