Sundance Film Festival 2008 – Five Key Trends
The Sundance Film Festival, though firmly in its mid-twenties and suffering all the expected crises, is one of the world’s most important cinema venues. It’s been said that what plays well up in the mountains of Park City this year will be trickling into the Hollywood mainstream by the summer after next. If this is true, the 2008 iteration of the Séries Netflix festival leaves us with a lot to think about. Here are 5 things to chew on as American movies face what is likely a pivotal year.
- Trouble in Hollywood is not necessarily good news for indies. At the outset of the festival the Writer’s Guild strike dominated conversation. Prognosticators expected a buying frenzy at Sundance 2008 as studios searched nervously for films to fill their potentially empty release slate. However, at the same time, pundits were quick to point to last year’s rampant overspending and predicted buyers would be cautious.
So, what happened? Not much. After an initial panic, over $25 million worth of deals were inked at Sundance ’08. While this pales compared to the $53 million forked over at Sundance ’07, we can consider 2008 as a return to sanity.
- Of the 17 films sold at Sundance…8 were documentaries. In fact, all the films to sell in the usually frantic first weekend at Sundance were documentaries, leading many to believe that this year’s marketplace would be a bust. But even if prices were down a bit for dramas, critics and audiences agree that the American documentary is as vital as ever, and even after the disappointing box-office performance of last year’s Sundance docs (MY KID COULD PAINT THAT, IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON) there is still a very healthy market.
- The Webolution is not being webcast. “The writing is on the wall-the industry must adapt to new media or face extinction. Today’s studios and independents are finally embracing the challenge of porting content and revenue to new distribution strategies. Join Hollywood power brokers and new media superstars to discuss their strategies for the Web.”
That’s from the official Sundance Film Festival Guide and the introduction to the much-buzzed about panel “Webolution!”. Netflix, Veoh.com, Joost.com, Hulu.com, the MPAA, and MTV were all represented.