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Has the Sundance Film Festival Lost Its Indie Bite?

Winners of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival have been announced and distribution deals have been cut (to the disappointment of on-demand platforms like Netflix and Amazon).

Winners of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival have been announced and distribution deals have been cut (to the disappointment of on-demand platforms like Netflix and Amazon). 

The festival is no longer just an annual event for cinephiles and underground filmmakers. Today, it has become one of the most popular independent film festivals in the US and has opened more direct channels from indie to Oscar: two films that premiered at last year’s festival, Boyhood and Whiplash, have been nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards.

Begun in the late 1970s, before digital video recording had triumphed, Sundance has had to adapt to changes in the industry. This year, the festival hosted no 35mm screenings, only considering digital submissions for its official competition. Though the festival did screen a short film shot on 16mm, that format was officially removed from the competition several years ago.

Still, the festival is an outlet for voices that may not otherwise be heard. This year’s Dope, for example, features a multi-racial cast and creative team, which have historically (and presently) been snubbed by Hollywood (see Selma). Strictly considering women’s voices, the festival has room for improvement. 

Few of its films could pass the Bechdel Test, popularized by the graphic novelist Alison Bechdel in a 1985 comic strip. To pass the test, a film must have 1) two female characters who 2) talk to each other about 3) something other than a man. And as Bechdel’s supporters insist, this test should be the baseline for women in film, not the ultimate achievement.

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Read more at Wired.

Photo credit: Shutterstock


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