Coattail riders are nothing new to the Sundance Film Festival. The vortex of attention generated by this internationally-renowned event has certainly become much more than the sum of its parts. One event, however, that seems to be rising from Sundance’s dust is the Slamdance Film Festival, which since 1995 has run at the same time as Sundance in the Treasure Mountain Inn at the top of Park City’s Main Street.
The best way to describe Slamdance may be as a much more accessible, yet completely viable alternative, to Sundance. Slamdance shows far fewer feature length films than Sundance, but about the same number of shorts. And though Slamdance organizers claim their fest’s films are of the same vein as films you’d see at Sundance, my impression is that Slamdance takes itself much less seriously than it’s much bigger and better-funded counterpart.
While waiting for the bus at Park City’s Main Street transit center, I met Michelle Anderson and Theresa Harkins, a pair of 50-ish friends from Seattle who’ve spent ladies-only vacations in Park City for the past 10 years during Sundance. Over time, however, they’ve gradually shifted from seeing mostly Sundance films to Slamdance movies. “They are a lot easier to get tickets for and are usually more quirky and out there,” Anderson said.
Both the media and the film industry have taken notice of Slamdance as well. The video-on-demand service Gravitas Ventures announced on Tuesday that three acquisitions from the Slamdance Film Festival will become available in limited theatrical release and in over 100 million homes in the next three months. And indewire.com led their coverage of Sundance week not with predictions for Robert Redford’s festival, but picked five breakout films from Slamdance.
One of Indiewire’s top picks is “Ghost Team One,” a comedic take on the found-footage/paranormal genre Slamdance helped shove into the spotlight several years ago. I happened upon “Ghost Team” producer Adam Mutchler while he was hanging his film’s posters on Main Street. “Slamdance is great. They take a much more hands on, more one-on-one approach to the filmmakers than Sundance. We are very excited to be here,” Mutchler said.
Though Slamdance wraps a few days before Sundance—this year’s event ends on Thursday, January 24—there is still time to catch a Slamdance film or two, including the final Park City screening of “Ghost Team One.” For details, go to slamdance.com.
Melissa Fields is a Utah-based freelance writer. Her blog about Utah things to do, eat and see is utahvagabond.com.