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Slamdance: Back to basics

Different location, new rhythms for event

PARK CITY — The return of Slamdance to Main Street and the confines of the Treasure Mountain Inn, after two years at the relatively inaccessible Silvermine venue resulted in a dramatic increase in soldout screenings and industry attention for the seven-day event, beginning Jan. 18 with the SRO world premiere of Kenneth Bowser’s “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls,” based on Peter Biskind’s book.

But the Main Street return was about much more than location, location, location. It was part of an overall back-to-basics approach at Slamdance 2003 intended to draw the festival’s focus back to its films and filmmakers and away from the high-profile parties and music-themed events of the Silvermine era.

There was also much that was new about Slamdance this year, including the presentation of the winning feature (Radoslaw Markiewicz’s “Scrap”) and short (Kinga Lewinska’s “Pas de Deux”) from the Slamdance Poland festival, one of an ongoing series of Slamdance programs that reach out to independent filmmakers across the globe.

The always strong documentary program had a dedicated screening room this year, along with its own section of the festival catalog. In keeping with Slamdance’s inherently democratic approach, however, all competition films, documentary or narrative, are eligible for the Grand Jury Prize.

Ramones, hobo highlights

There was no docu feature this year on the order of past Slamdance discoveries, but doc highlights included Michael Gramaglia and Jim Fields’ “End of the Century” and David Eberhardt and Jack Cahill’s “Long Gone.”

Former is a sweeping overview of the career of the pioneering punk band the Ramones; latter, following the lives of modern-day hobos, is set to an original song score by Tom Waits that many considered to be among the most exceptional artistic achievements on display anywhere in Park City this year.

Fest closes tonight with a special screening of “Milwaukee, Minnesota,” directed by Allan Mindel, and the presentation of the 2003 Sparky Awards at Snow Park Lodge.

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