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Park City fights for Sundance as Atlanta, San Francisco court the festival

The Sundance Film Festival has called Park City home since 1981.
Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet/© 2024 Sundance Institute
The Sundance Film Festival has called Park City home since 1981.

California, Georgia and New Mexico are among the locations courting the Sundance Film Festival should it decide to leave Park City in 2027.

Since Sundance said in April it is exploring options for a new festival location, cities across the U.S. have announced their intentions to bid for one of the most prestigious events showcasing independent film.

Atlanta, San Francisco and Minneapolis are the larger cities rumored to have submitted bids before the May 1 deadline, according to multiple media reports. Smaller cities interested include Sante Fe, N.M., Savannah, Ga, and Buffalo, N.Y.

Park City Mayor Nann Worel said Thursday Sundance should remain in Utah.

"We have an experienced, innovative, and unified team in place to ensure this happens," Worel said. "Park City is not alone in this process. Our regional partnerships are strong, and we are committed to a renewed, forward-looking effort to re-imagine the Festival together. In the end, we believe our 40 years of experience and strong partnerships will be key to our success and we thank the Sundance Institute for this opportunity.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said the bid process offers the chance to build a “more accessible, inspiring and uplifting Sundance Film Festival.”

"As the hub for arts, culture, and entertainment in Utah, Salt Lake City looks forward to working with the Sundance Institute and neighboring partners to champion independent filmmaking, creativity, and storytelling," Mendenhall said.

Sundance offered three screening venues in the Salt Lake valley during the 2024 festival, compared to seven in Park City.

Utah Film Commission Executive Director Virginia Pearce told KPCW she thinks Salt Lake City has the capacity to host more screenings.

The event has roots in Utah dating back to 1978.

Sundance’s contract with Park City expires after the 2026 festival.

Next in the bid process, Sundance will invite cities it considers viable to submit a request for proposal, or RFP. That’s where the potential locations will share specifics on how they will host a successful festival.

Sundance officials are interested in logistics like venue space and airport proximity.

Cities’ festival plans must be submitted by June 21.

Sundance said it will decide on a festival location for 2027 and beyond by the end of 2024 or early 2025.