Slumdance, Slamdunk and Lapdance may have bitten the dust, and NoDance may have moved its event to Los Angeles, but there are still plenty of alterna-‘dances vying for attention from the hordes of cinephiles, industryites, celebs and media in town for Robert Redford’s main attraction.
Dates: Jan. 17-24
Topper: Peter Baxter
Base camp: Treasure Mountain Inn
Screening venues: Treasure Mountain Inn in Park City, and the Madstone Theater and Brewvies in Salt Lake City
Program size: 80-plus films, including 19 features and shorts in competition, 6 special screenings and 50-plus shorts out of competition
Focus: films by first-time directors
Motto: “By filmmakers for filmmakers”
Admission: $7/film, $25 for opening and closing parties
Awards: Sparky Awards include grand jury prizes for narrative feature, doc and short; audience awards for feature and short; awards for screenplay and SlamFi screenplay; Spirit of Slamdance Award; and Kodak Vision Award for cinematography
Alumni: Chris Nolan’s first film “Following”; Mark Forster’s first film “Loungers”; Ray McKinnon’s Oscar-winning short “The Accountant”; Eitan Gorlin’s “The Holy Land”
2004 highlights: opening night: Eugene Martin’s “The Other America”; closing night: “Death and Texas,” from 1998 Slamdance grand jury prizewinner Kevin Dinovis; Bill Plympton’s “Hair High”; Ryan Eslinger’s “Madness and Genius”; Bryan Poyser’s “Dear Pillow”; Kevin Asher Green’s “Homework”
Typical attendee: Everyone from industry to locals to drop-in celebrities, such as Chloe Sevigny or Hope Davis, spotted last year waiting in line for screenings
Be-there factor: There’s always a few gems tucked away at this die-hard indie gathering, despite the deafening acquisitions buzz out of Sundance. “It’s a meeting place,” says programming director Nubia Flores. “We don’t court studios, but we prep filmmakers to get out there and approach distributors.”
Party factor: Matches fest’s indie spirit. This year’s opening night event, dubbed New York City Loves Slamdance, features perfs by five female Gotham punk rock bands at Snow Park Lodge in Deer Valley.
Overheard: “It’s less rage against the system now; it’s part of the establishment, like how Critics Week and Directors Fortnight are now legit at Cannes. They are scrappy indies with no huge sponsors or celebrity endorsers, but they’re more accepted by filmmakers as a place to have a premiere. It always impresses me that they’re still around.”
Dates: Salt Lake event Jan. 20 and Park City event Jan. 21, but the Troma team will be working the streets the duration of Sundance
Topper: Jonathan Lees (founder: Lloyd Kaufman)
Base camp: Cisero’s
Screening venues: Cisero’s in Park City and Brewvies in Salt Lake
Program size: More than 50 shorts and features
Focus: Though one new Troma pic screens every year, it’s not just a B gore fest. Pics from all genres are welcome.
Motto: “Give independent film back to the people.”
Awards: Kodak provides $1,000 in film stock to “the hardest working filmmaker in Park City.”
Alumni: Gene Sung, who made the animated film “Revolve,” went on to join the team that creates the titles and credits for ‘Punk’d”; the crew responsible for the short “Puphedz” did effects work on Guillermo Del Toro’s “Hellboy”
2004 highlights: World premiere of Troma’s latest, “Tales From the Crapper,” a multi-director film starring Julie Strain and Kevin Eastman
Typical attendee: Those intrigued by the gaggle of freakishly costumed and fake-blood splattered Troma characters who are known to troll Main Street at fest time. Thesps Famke Janssen, Rebecca Romeijn Stamos and Charlize Theron — no strangers to costume make-up — all have cavorted with Troma superhero Toxic Avenger.
Be-there factor: If your film gets into the fest, you have a free place to crash — the Tromadance condo!
Party factor: Annual party at Cisero’s tends to feature special guests like Ron Jeremy, Satanicide and Karen Black.
Overheard: “Tromadance has emerged as a spunky outsider alternative festival, promoting its catalog of B-movies with costumed characters from the films and a ragtag bunch of attendees.”
Dates: Jan. 15-24
Topper: Dino Georgopoulos, founder and director of one-man-production
Base camp: a 16-cubic-foot Penske truck stocked with a digital projector, a generator and a 8′ x 6′ screen on the back, which roams Park City and stops anywhere that potential audiences might gather — in front of theaters and random spots along Main Street.
Screening venue: the truck
Program size: 10 submissions so far, but Georgopoulos hopes to double or triple last year’s 30 films.
Festival focus: To entertain Sundance crowds out and about. Screenings start at dark and go until 2 or 3 a.m. Silent films are ideal, since the RoaDance setup has no sound.
Motto: “If you’ve got a film and a DV tape, I’ll put it on the reel,” Georgopoulos says.
Awards: none yet
Alumni: The trailer for Paul Hough’s doc “Backyard”; Bill Plympton’s “Eat”; and “RoofSex” by PEX, about two armchairs having sex on a rooftop.
2004 highlights: Per Peterson’s 3-D surf pic “Out of the Blue”
Typical attendee: Latenight Sundancers and locals staggering out of bars. MTV’s Puck and CNN’s Anderson Cooper have stopped by.
Be-there factor: After Georgopoulos got arrested last year, the ACLU sued the city for the festival’s right to exist and won. Apparently, his right to show flicks is protected by the First Amendment. He fears, however, the City Council might find a way to lock him up again.
Party factor: Sneaking a roadie near the truck and avoiding getting caught by P.C. police.
Overheard: “You just o.d. on movies in Park City, the last thing you want to do is sit in the back of a van watching more. Maybe if they handed out drugs or something.”
Dates: Jan. 15-20
Topper: Brian Wimmer
Base camp: 333 Main Street
Screening venue: 333 Main Street, second floor
Program size: 25-30 films
Fest focus: Extreme sports films
Motto: “What Redford did for the independents, we’re trying to do for the action sports world: To take these films to the next level of Hollywood recognition and mass-market appeal.”
Awards: Nine awards including best film, best editing, best stunt
Alumni: Steve Olpin’s “Nasty’s World,” Chris Malloy and Taylor Steele’s “Shelter”
2004 highlights: Dave O’Leske and Stash Wislocki’s “Cinema Vertical,” Jason Baffa’s “Single Fin Yellow,” Murray Wais’ “The Seth Morrison Chronicles”
Typical attendee: locals and kids participating in the Burton Chill snowboarding program
Celebrity quotient: Extreme sports fans Juliette Lewis, Pauly Shore and skier Glen Plake have presented awards.
Be-there factor: “We’re trying to help the filmmakers of an overlooked genre,” says Wimmer. “Shooting someone jumping off a cliff doesn’t make a movie. We’re trying to get away from action porn and get to the heart and soul of these sports.”
Party factor: Events can get rowdy; this year’s closing night affair is at Harry O’s Jan. 20
Overheard: “X-Dance caused a commotion on Main Street last year, drawing large crowds from the ski slopes. Cinephiles in from L.A. and New York seemed uninterested in the extreme action on screen, but the crowds that jammed Harry O’s seemed stoked.”
Dates: Jan. 16
Topper: Larry Mark
Base camp: Temple Har Shalom
Screening venue: Temple Har Shalom
Program size: Two features and a selection of shorts
Fest focus: Films with Jewish themes that didn’t get into Sundance or Slamdance
Motto: “To give Jewish filmmakers exposure and provide an Oneg Shabbat in Park City.”
Alumnus: “The Joel Files,” a doc about Billy Joel going to back to Germany to find his Jewish roots
2004 highlights: North American premiere of Israeli doc “So They Catch Children, Too?” by Hedva Galili-Smolinsky; Bobby Roth’s “Manhood,” starring John Ritter and Janeane Garofalo (pic showed at Sundance last year); short “The Sopranowitzes,” directed by Adam Shapiro and Seth Weidner
Typical attendee: Park City Jewish residents and industry types such as helmer Josh Kornbluth and Seventh Art Releasing’s Udy Epstein
Be-there factor: “It’s a chance for lesser-known Jewish filmmakers to be recognized in Park City,” says Mark.
Party factor: Friday night Sabbath worship service and reception
Overheard: “They have rugelach, too.”