I am so excited to share with you all that I was recently elected to Sundance Institute’s Board of Trustees. I am joining a most incredible group of industry leaders including Robert Redford, President and Founder, Pat Mitchell, Walter Weisman, Kenneth Cole and many many more. The Executive Director of the Institute is Keri Putnam, an outstanding woman leader who started in this role only two years ago following her position as President of Production for Miramax Films. ( pictured with me)
Many people know Sundance Institute primarily for the Sundnace Film Festival held in Park City, Utah every January. While the festival is huge, Sundance works all year round to support and advance independent artists and their work.
It started 1981 by Robert Redford and a group of friends that were looking to start a community of artists in the mountains of Utah to create and foster independence, discovery and creativity in American Film. That first spring the Institute invited 10 artists to join in the first ever Sundance Institute Filmmakers/Directors Lab where writers and directors came to produce independent film projects. Since this initial effort nearly 5,000 artists and their films have been supported through their Artist Programs, Labs and Fellowships. (more history click here)
Ever since it has been attracting filmmakers and artists to Park City and the surrounding area with hopes of having their films be chosen as one of the 200 films picked each year for the Festival. It is impossible to know the impact Sundance has had on not only the industry as a whole, but in the lives of thousands of professionals who have worked on or appeared in a film. Just this past weekend I had dinner with a filmmaker who got her start at Sundance and gives it credit for where she is today.
If you live in Utah you might be interested in knowing that according to the independent annual economic and demographic study conducted by the University of Utah’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the David Eccles School of Business (BEBR), the 2012 Sundance Film Festival generated an overall economic impact of $80 million for the State of Utah. (posted in full on the Sundance Institute website) It also found that the 2012 Festival: supported over 1,731 jobs; generated over $69 million in media exposure; provided nearly $6.9 million in tax revenue; and was attended by more than 46,000 people, a 2% increase over the prior year. More than 66 percent of festival attendees traveled from outside of Utah, more than 5,700 visitors were from international locations and more than 44 percent of tourist attendees indicated that they intend to visit Utah again during the next year.
If you are lucky enough to live in this beautiful state you can also benefit from many local events and programs. During the months not dedicated to the Film Festival the Sundance Institute works with the local community through their Community Programs to bring free and open Utah-based activities and events to more than 25,000 Utah residents each year. Through The Art House Project, which is a collaboration with art house cinemas in cities around the country, they create specialized screening programs of Sundance Institute and Sundance Film Festival-supported films for local audiences.
One of the main reasons I am so excited to be joining the board at this moment is because Sundance just announced a women filmmakers initiative. In fact they announced it at a party at my home in January. “Recognizing a unique opportunity to advance film culture and to forward its mission to discover and develop independent artists and audiences, Sundance Institute has collaborated with Women In Film to take a fresh look at this issue. Together, they will ultimately harness the creative programs of both institutions to understand and work toward addressing these challenges.” If you jump over to the resources section of my web-site you will see some pretty horrible statistics regarding women’s representation and participation in the film space generally. It is so exciting that groups will be working together to address the unique challenges that women face in this industry.
Please consider supporting the work of Sundance Institute and stay tuned for more on this new initiative. If you have not yet attended a festival, add it to your bucket list. Figuring out how to get tickets is a bit of a challenge but well worth the effort! Sign up for their newsletter to learn more.