General News

Sundance Film Festival Opens

Jul 06, 2001 | 9:39am EDT

Most of who'll converge at Park City, Utah, beginning today could care less about the powdery conditions on the local slopes. There’s no time for skiing when the Sundance Film Festival is in town.

The annual event, backed by actor/director Robert Redford, kicks off today with a who’s who of Hollywood celebrities and studio brass with fat wallets expected to take over the small mountain town for the next 10 days.

Aside from being one long party, the event is also a platform for young, independent filmmakers to dangle their projects before Hollywood big wigs in hopes that one will bite with an offer to buy. Last year, film fans from around the world saw big-screen offerings such as "Chuck & Buck" and "You Can Count on Me".

The year before that, Sundance darling “The Blair Witch Project” made big headlines when it was purchased by Artisan for a mere $1 million. With a little polishing up from Artisan, “Witch” went on to make $140 million domestically and $250 million worldwide.

This year, Sundancers can expect to see 106 feature films that are scheduled to be showcased by filmmakers that have taken advantage of the low-cost, digital format. Transgender themes also seem to be a common theme that is cropping up among this year’s entries.

There’s a movie adaptation of the popular stage play ``Hedwig and the Angry Inch'' from John Cameron Mitchell, while "Princesa" tells of a Brazilian transgender whose sex change, man to woman, raises questions, and a documentary titled “Southern Comfort” that follows the story of a female-to-male transsexual suffering from ovarian cancer.

Expect the usual rush of the up-and-comers who will be angling to get discovered and celebrities who will be there to be seen and promote their latest project.

Christine Lahti kicks off the opening night with her directorial debut “My First Mister,” while Samuel L Jackson will be there to hype up "Caveman's Valentine," about a homeless man caught in a murder plot, and Julia Stiles (“Save the Last Dance”) talks up ``The Business of Strangers,'' centering on a struggle for corporate power.

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