On the international front, the Sundance Institute is maintaining its policy of extending experience and know-how when invited by overseas groups to help give hopeful filmmakers the tools they need to get their projects beyond the dream stage.
Sundance is a sponsor of screenwriting labs and producer conferences in Latin America and Europe, as well as in the U.S. The institute also has initiated international film fests replicating the annual Park City, Utah, event in To-kyo, now in its seventh year.
But rather than expand efforts, the institute is “taking a close look” at existing screenwriting labs and regional programs, according to fest artistic director Geoffrey Gilmore, to increase their effectiveness.
A key role in evaluating programs and deciding on new ones will be played by Ken Brecher, the institute’s new executive director.
Brecher joined Sundance this past summer, taking up duties that previously had been shouldered by founder Robert Redford and president Gary Beer. His responsibility is to oversee all arts programs, including the Sundance Film Festival, as well as film, international and stage programs.
Returning recently from his first trip to the Sundance fest in Tokyo, Brecher says he was “thrilled to see the reac-tion of Japanese audiences to films like ‘I Shot Andy Warhol’ and ‘Unhook the Stars.’ They just don’t get to see films like this over there.”
Brecher promises that Sundance will be placing emphasis on theater, dance, music and art, as well as film. One innovation Brecher will be overseeing is an international theater lab that for the first time will be focusing on directors. Brecher formerly was a director of the Mark Taper Forum.
In April , Sundance will attempt to repeat the film series it began in October 1995 in Beijing, an event that many Chinese filmmakers now refer to as “Unforgettable October.”
“We’ve identified a large group of film students and filmmakers in China,” says Brecher, who might benefit from an annual Sundance program. But as in the rest of the world, the process will work both ways.
“We are taking a hard look at countries where we can learn the most,” Brecher says. Among possible new programs are a screenwriting lab in Hungary and a program in South Africa. The Institute will be participating as advisers to a screenwriting lab in Scotland.
And a return to Tokyo is assured for an eighth year, with a producers seminar as part of the event for the first time.