For 17 years, Sundance’s upstart Park City kid brother has proclaimed itself to be “by filmmakers, for filmmakers.” This year, it’s taking that commitment to another level.
In an economic environment where young aspiring filmmakers might risk everything and barely earn back a dime even if the film gets a distribution deal, Slamdance is giving back. According to festival president and co-founder Peter Baxter, 10 percent of all 2011 festival ticket sales will go back to the participating filmmakers, helping defray the costs of the next generation of innovative filmmaking.
And, as usual, you’ll get a chance to see some uniquely compelling movies in exchange for supporting them about as directly as it’s possible to do. Titles like Mad Hot Ballroom, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters and Paranormal Activity have debuted at Slamdance in years past, and the next discovery could be in the 2011 lineup of 22 features and 56 shorts. Among the competition dramas is the oddball buddy comedy Fred and Vinnie featuring standup comic Fred Stoller, while the documentary competition includes films about the Bhopal, India, industrial disaster (Bhopali) and real-life costumed do-gooders (Superheroes, pictured). And among the special screenings is the new film from director Alexandre Rockwell (In the Soup), Pete Smalls is Dead, featuring Peter Dinklage and Steve Buscemi.
Slamdance isn’t just what you do when Sundance is sold out. And this year, in particular, it’s the best kind of grass-roots support for indie filmmaking.