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A brief history of Sundance

Read Jamie Allen's Postcards From Sundance

Back in black: Sundance 2000 basks in 'commercial' independence

A brief history of Sundance

List: Sundance films in competition

January 21, 2000
Web posted at: 12:41 p.m. EST (1741 GMT)

(CNN) -- Most everyone assumes that Robert Redford founded the film festival he runs in Park City, Utah. After all, he is the guy who gave the festival its current name, and he is the one who escorted it to international prominence.

But the festival was around long before Redford stepped in. The Utah/United States Film Festival debuted in 1978 in Salt Lake City. It was the brainchild of the Utah Film Commission, a way to lure filmmakers and tourists to the state.

In the early years, the festival focused on retrospective presentations and seminars. It also featured a national competition aimed at drawing attention to emerging American independent films. The festival moved to Park City in 1981, and in 1985 Redford's Sundance Institute -- founded four years earlier to help young filmmakers -- took over operations.

In 1991, the event was officially renamed the Sundance Film Festival. By then it had already developed a reputation for championing indie films to box office success, as witnessed by the Steven Soderbergh 1989 Sundance entry "Sex, Lies and Videotape."

This year, an estimated 2,500 films were submitted for consideration to Sundance. Approximately 20,000 people are expected to see screenings of the top picks, as well as offerings from Hollywood.

Sundance is now considered one of the top film festivals in the world, along with similar events in Cannes, France; Venice, Italy; and Toronto.



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