Sick of Sundance's tendency to celebrate known-faces over independent films? Look no further than the Slamdance Film Festival, that will celebrate its 17th iteration with the fest kicking off on January 21, 2011.
Having a Slice/Sprite type of relationship with Sundance (which begins only a day before), the event is known for its nurturing love for all that it is underground cinema, discovering filmmakers like Jared Hess ("Napoleon Dynamite"), Seth Gordon ("The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters") and Marc Forster ("Monster's Ball"). More obscure films and filmmakers that they have highlighted in the past include "Paranormal Activity" and Christopher Nolan's debut "Following."
Not a bad pedigree, huh? Though we get our junk on for the likes of Sundance, Cannes, Venice, and TIFF, there's a special place in our heart for a festival that really takes a chance in programming "nobodies" and allowing new directors that one opportunity they need to get their foot in the door. They also spread the love, as last year they partnered with Microsoft to get the most successful films out to the public, streaming through XBox and Zune. This year is no different as "Slamdance introduces a new distribution award to the best feature film that provides an alternative to the traditional US theatrical system. Screenings will begin in summer 2011 as collaboration between the filmmakers, sponsors and regional film organizations. In addition, the winning feature will also be offered international distribution via Xbox and Zune’s international platforms."
Hosting a narrative and documentary competition, highlights this year include the documentary "Superheroes," by Michael Barnett, which follows real costumed crime fighters as they clean up their respective cities; "Without," by Mark Jackson, starring the lovely and powerful Joslyn Jensen as a caretaker for an elderly man whose repetitive routine and claustrophobic home leads to a breakdown and "Drama," by Matias Lira, following three characters in a bizarre sexual odyssey that would make the characters of "The Dreamers" blush (website + Spanish trailer here).
Check out the full list here and be on the lookout for Slamdance's online screening opportunities. You might just find your next favorite filmmaker.