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It's A Natural Time For A Sundance

The brainchild of actor-turned-auteur Robert Redford, the Sundance Film Festival is perhaps the single best American attempt to create a Cannes of its own.

But instead of the bikini and beach scene on the French Riviera, Sundance offers the rugged, magical setting of Utah's Provo Canyon — where dwell Redford's Sundance Institute, as well as enough bungalows where 300 well-heeled cinephiles can hang their hats for the festival.

Spawned to help nurture American independent filmmakers, the Sundance Film Festival also does a good job of drawing in the crowds. These days, the Festival attracts some 2,000 submissions each year from independent film-makers, from which Sundance programmers pick 100 feature films, plus 60 shorts. And these aren't all art-house flicks, either — The fest regularly premieres mainstream movies.

Perhaps it's the skiiing, the horseback riding, and the beauty of the outdoors that keeps Sundance's audience returning for an annual pilgrimage. Or perhaps it's also the chance to rub elbows with name-brand actors and directors in a casual setting.

Whichever the case, Sundance's audience shows little sign of flagging. The festival crowd has shot up some 800 percent in the last 12 years, topping 122,000 in 1997. Nor is the Sundance brand likely to fade away: Redford reportedly has a line of Sundance theaters waiting to open, and his Sundance Channel is now in its second year.



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Written by Sean Wolfe

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