ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT

The Slamdance Film Festival; a fun, quirky alternative to Sundance

Jan 25, 2023, 8:00 AM
KSL Newsradio's Park City correspondent Joe Davis says Slamdance showcases important independent fi...
The Slamdance Festival, a quirky alternative to the bigger Sundance Film Festival, showcases independent films. (Joe Davis)
(Joe Davis)

PARK CITY, Utah —  For fans of independent films that have not been motivated to hit the Sundance Film Festival, maybe the Slamdance Film Festival is a better fit.  

A pair of filmmakers created the Slamdance Film Festival in 1995 after Sundance snubbed a film they submitted. Not to be deterred, Dan Mirvish and others started their festival, and the Slamdance Film Festival was born.

“They rented the space in the hotel, very near Main Street, and screened their films on small televisions, I believe it was VCR tape at the time. They showed them to a very small audience,” said KSL Newsradio’s Park City correspondent Joe Davis.

“Since that time, that has grown to be a continuing event such that it has been at the Treasure Mountain Inn for almost 20 years,” continued Davis. 

The Treasure Mountain Inn is ground zero for Slamdance according to Davis. It has two small screening rooms where about 40 people can see each film, including exclusive premieres and question-and-answer sessions afterward.

Tickets are accessible and reasonably priced, unlike some of the more sought-after movie screenings at Sundance.

“Tickets are available all the time. You can literally walk up to the box office right now, potentially buy tickets to the 9:25 p.m. or the 7:35 p.m. showings,” according to Davis.

What’s at Slamdance this year?

One particularly buzz-worthy submission this year is “Starring Jerry As Himself”. The film depicts a family whose immigrant father, a retired Florida man, believes he was recruited by the Chinese police to be an undercover agent. Davis predicts it will win crowd favorite at this year’s festival.

“All genres are seen here, we have everything from horror to shorts to drama to documentaries,” said Davis.

Davis believes independent filmmaking is important in many ways, and Slamdance can be a real boost for filmmakers looking to submit their films to a bigger audience at Sundance.

Davis said independent films feature stories that need to be told, such as a documentary that premiered Jan. 23.  “Downwind,” a film with Utah roots, is about the fallout from a Nevada nuclear test site.

“Independent filmmaking is an important function. It serves the community in that it provides films that otherwise wouldn’t be seen. It exposes stories that otherwise wouldn’t be told,” said Davis.

The Slamdance Film Festival continues through Thursday, Jan 26. in Park City. Passes can be purchased through the event’s website.

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The Slamdance Film Festival; a fun, quirky alternative to Sundance