Ryan Coogler, Director of the Award-Winning Fruitvale, courtesy of Sundance Film Festival
The Sundance Film Festival is the gold standard of American independent film festivals. Several top-flight directors, including Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino, and Wes Anderson, first made names for themselves at Sundance. Indie favorites such as Little Miss Sunshine and Napoleon Dynamite premiered at the festival. And last year’s top Sundance award winner, Beasts of the Southern Wild, is currently up for four Academy Awards, including best picture.
The 2013 Sundance Film Festival presented 119 feature-length films and 65 shorts in its 11-day run (January 17-27) — a feast for any cinephile. But a trip to Park City, Utah, isn’t feasible for most people. Since the festival is a venue for filmmakers to secure distribution, it can take months before the movies featured at Sundance make it to your local movie theater, if they do at all. Fortunately, there’s a way you can take in some of the Sundance Film Festival experience online.
WATCH 2013 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL SHORTS ONLINE
Of course, it’s the feature films that get all of the attention, but short films are also a big part of the Sundance Film Festival. You can watch 12 short films that premiered at the festival on the Sundance Institute’s Screening Room channel on YouTube. Among the films included is the Short Film Audience Award winner Catnip: Egress to Oblivion — Jason Willis’ trippy, satirical examination of the mysterious substance. Think Reefer Madness for kitties.
Press the Play All button at the top of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival Shorts playlist and you’ve got yourself a mini-festival in your home. The channel also features four YouTube shorts that were featured at the festival and additional shorts from the Sundance archives.
The 2013 Sundance Film Festival was also a showcase for the Focus Forward project, a competition of 30 three-minute documentary films about innovative people reshaping the world. Five of the shorts premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, including the grand prize winner: Rafel Duran Torrent’s Cyborg Foundation, about a colorblind man who uses cyborg technology to bring color into his world.
DAVE GROHL’S SOUND CITY SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL DEBUT AVAILABLE ONLINE
There’s one feature length film that premiered at Sundance that you can watch right now at home. Sound City, directed by Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, is a documentary about the eponymous Los Angeles recording studio where some of the greatest rock albums were created, such as Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. Featuring interviews with several music legends, including Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, and Neil Young, the film is also a lament about how technology has largely replaced the human element in music recording.
You can purchase the film directly from the Sound City website for $12.99. It’s a DRM-free MP4 download, so you can watch the film in RealPlayer. You can download a free version of RealPlayer by pressing the orange button in the top right corner of this page. A companion soundtrack features performances by Grohl, Paul McCartney, and Trent Reznor, among others. Two of the songs, as well as clips from the film, are available on the Sound City YouTube channel.
WATCH THE 29TH SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL AWARD WINNERS ONLINE
If you’re interested in behind-the-scenes action from the festival, the Sundance Institute website features artist interviews, press conferences, music performances, cast Q&As, and the Sundance Film Festival awards presentation in its entirety.
Fruitvale and Blood Brother were two standout films at the 29th Sundance Film Festival earning two awards each. Fruitvale, a film about 22-year-old Bay Area resident Oscar Grant who was shot by BART officers at the Frutivale subway stop on New Year’s Day in 2009, received the for U.S. Grand Jury Prize – Dramatic and Audience Award – U. S. Dramatic presented by Acura awards. While Blood Brother, a documentary about “Rocky Anna” who moved to India to live and work with children in need, won the U. S. Grand Jury Prize – Documentary and Audience Award – U.S. Documentary presented by Acura awards. The complete list of award winners can be found on the Sundance website.
Which films that premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival are you most looking forward to seeing? Do you plan to attend any of the upcoming major film festivals? Let us know in the comments section below.
John is a longtime technology journalist and author — long enough to remember when the CD-ROM was going to change the media landscape as we know it. He’s written for PC Magazine, CNET, CNBC, and CNN/Money among other media outlets. His favorite lost cause: the New York Mets.