A Carnival for Independent Films: The Sundance Film Festival

The Sundance Film Festival, as a program of the Sundance Institute, is the largest independent film festival in the United States. The festival is a good platform for independent filmmakers from both America and all over the world. There are various competitive sections including dramatic, documentary,  short films, and so on.

The Sundance Film Festival is a place of hope for excavating and developing the talent. In the American Independent Film movement, the Sundance Film Festival played a very important role. In 1980s and 1990s, many filmmakers in later became the backbone of the independent film movement, such as Steven Soderbergh, Kevin Smith, Alexandre Rockwell, Quentin Tarantino, and so on.

In the late 1980s, the chairman of the Sundance Association, Robert Redford, began to change the mode of operation of Sundance. He no longer completely rejects the Hollywood. Instead, he changed the hostile attitude and gradually adopted the commercial marketing strategy for the festival. However, after the film festival integrated Hollywood’s resources and applied commercialized marketing strategy, it has really improved its influence. As the influence of the Sundance Film Festival increases, more and more professional film critics, producers and publishers come to Sundance. the film “Sex, Petition, Videotape”, won super high box office after it successfully launched in the Sundance Film Festival. From then on, the Sundance Film Festival attracted more and more independent films. In the 1990s, independent films such as “Sex, Lies, and Videotapes”, ” El Mariachi”, ” Boxing Helena” seems to be similar to the main style of Hollywood mainstream movies. That is, the story strives to be simple and complete, the character is shaped with a clear outline, and there will be strict logic in the setting of story clues; however, it has its own personalization. To be specific, the style is full of the director’s own interesting appeal, and the shooting method is also of uniqueness and novelty.


The Sundance Film Festival is an important force in the independent film movement. It gives many young filmmakers who are not famous and full of dreams a chance to change their destiny. Anyone who has potential and talent can start the movie career here. The emergence of Sundance is just breaking this monopoly of Hollywood in the American film industry.

In short 30 years, the Sundance film festival has developed to be an international festival, celebrating an independent cultural spirit for many years. It maintains the subjectivity of its own culture while interacts with the mainstream Hollywood movies. In other words, it not only has a certain subversive effect on the big Hollywood system, but also strives to open up opportunities for newcomers and create vitality from the edge. It provides a wonderful platform for independent films in the world. Hence, Sundance film festival system can be a good reference and example for us to learn from.



Stambro, Jan Elise. “The Economic Impacts of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival Held in Utah from January 17, 2013 to January 27, 2013.” Bureau of Economic and Business Research, University of Utah (2013).

Craig, Benjamin. “History of the Sundance Film Festival” Sundance-A Festival Virgin’s Guide. viewed Sep.1.2018. https://www.sundanceguide.net/sundance-festival-guide/history-of-the-sundance-film-festival/part-1.php

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