Sundance adds world cinema competish

16 narrative features, 12 nonfiction titles to vie for kudos

As part of its push to expand the event’s focus beyond American indies to global film production, the Sundance Film Festival will launch the World Cinema Competition for both dramatic and documentary features at next year’s fest.

Roughly mirroring the Park City, Utah, event’s U.S. indie showcase, the new competition will include 16 narrative features in the dramatic category and 12 nonfiction titles vying for documentary prizes. Separate juries will preside over awards distribution.

While Sundance regulations stipulate only that World Cinema entries must be U.S. premieres, the fest is seeking world-premiere titles for the new slots, which stands to create competitive sparks with the nearly back-to-back Rotterdam and Berlin fests.

“The continuing mission of the Sundance Film Festival is to highlight new American independent cinema and to introduce U.S. audiences and industry to new trends in international films,” said fest director Geoffrey Gilmore. “By creating a competition for international films we are adding a platform to acknowledge emerging filmmakers who are making an impact on the independent film community.”

The competition will provide official recognition for films in the established World Cinema section, where titles such as “Whale Rider,” “Run Lola Run,” “Central Station,” “Bus 174” and “The Last Kiss” have appeared. International films not selected for competition will continue to figure in the Premiere, Midnight and Frontier categories.

The 2005 Sundance fest runs Jan. 20-30.