What is the Sundance Film Festival outside of Park City?
Sundance Institute CEO Joanna Vicente has addressed the possibility of a move for the Sundance Film Festival out of Park City, where it has taken place since the early ’80s.
Vicente was the surprise guest at the live-taping of Puck founding partner Matt Belloni‘s Ringer podcast The Town. During the wide-ranging conversation that touched on everything from the Netflix acquisition of Fair Play to the five-year plan for the festival, Belloni asked Vicente about the state of negotiations for staying in Park City.
“Park City is part of Sundance,” Vicente answered. “It’s a beautiful location. It’s kind of remote. We get immersed into the festival.” At that point, Belloni interjected to say, “I feel a but coming,” adding that in his conversations with Uber drivers, restaurant employees and ski industry insiders, “They don’t like Sundance.”
“No,” Vicente replied. “We love it.”
There have long been rumblings about the Sundance Fest moving out of Park City. Locals have long complained about the stress it brings to the small town, with a massive influx of people crushing the city’s local business and public transport every January. For the past several years, Sundance has been holding more screenings and events outside of Park City in the much larger Salt Lake City, where the first iterations of the fest took place.
She continued: “There are challenges. I mean, accessibility is a challenge. Cost is a challenge. We’ve been really excited about the programming that we are doing in Salt Lake and really getting to a more diverse, younger audience.”
She said that the state of Utah supports the festival, then confirmed that “there is a negotiation coming up. We’re also spending time doing a lot of strategic thinking of where can we be most relevant. What’s the role of the festival? What’s the role of the institute? How do we evolve in a really ever-changing industry around us? Those are all of the considerations, but we love being here. So, that’s what I would say. We want to make this work. We know there are a lot of challenges.”
Another surprising moment in the podcast came when Belloni asked Vicente about the changing landscape of the film business, noting how the news broke just minutes before that Scott Stuber had departed his top film post at Netflix. There were more than a few shocked attendees who looked up with wide eyes. Vicente even shared that she had not yet heard that news. She had, however, heard that Netflix paid $17 million for fest title It’s What’s Inside.
Notable attendees at the podcast taping included Super/Man directors Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui (riding high on the reception of their documentary), producer Jason Shuman and a gaggle of power entertainment lawyers from Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks including Vishaal Sharma, Kyle Zimmerman, Samantha Sheft and Arielle Matza. Oh, and of course, The Town’s “producer Craig” aka Craig Horlbeck also made an appearance at the end for the segment “Call Sheet” to discuss box office predictions. The full episode of The Town with the Vicente chat drops on Wednesday on Spotify.
Vincente, who joined Sundance as the CEO from the Toronto International Film Festival in 2021, was talking to Belloni the day before Sundance regulars, including agents and execs, are set to meet with Sundance leadership for a billed “think tank” about the future of the festival.