The Slamdance Film Festival, opening today (which opened Feb. 12th) is showing films online, rather than at the Treaasure Mountain Inn at the top of Main Street.
But the Festival’s co-creator and Director, Peter Baxter, says they have thousands of passholders ready for the event.
The 26th Slamdance Festival is featuring 25 feature films and 107 shorts.
Baxter told KPCW that even before the pandemic erupted last year, they were thinking of an online component for the event, in order to attract a wider, worldwide audience.
“So what we’ve done is that we’ve invested in apps that you have at home that you can watch the Festival on, whether it’s your Amazon, Firestick, or Apple or Roku, Youtube, to experience Slamdance this year.’
He said the event is not only more accessible, but more affordable, with a $10 pass enabling you to see everything at the Festival.
Baxter said they have nearly 20,000 passholders set for the screenings.
He said during the months of Covid, their submissions decreased by just a few hundred, and in fact entries for their Screenplay program increased. Baxter said a number of filmmakers adapted to the lockdowns.
“Some filmmakers, especially short filmmakers, used this time, because they were living for the most part, inside in various parts of the world—couldn’t get out as much—created stories then within their own interiors. They took advantage, if you like then, of the situation they found themselves in to create.”
The Festival this year has the theme, “Greenlight Yourself.” Baxter said they have recorded Q and A’s for every film. Panels will be held.
And a new program in the Festival, called “Unstoppable” will highlight filmmakers of disability.
“And there are over a billion people in the world that have some sort of disability. Some of these disabilities are invisible. But it’s not represented in the film industry. Really, 2 percent of those with disability are represented in the film industry, and we wanted to change that.”
They will have one live event—a California-drive-in showing of their closing-night film, “18th and Grand” on Feb. 25th.
The pandemic has left many people wondering if we will ever return to movie theaters—or film festivals—as we used to know them.
In reply, Baxter said he thinks online films will be a part of their event from now on. But audiences, he said, will always want to gather in front of a larger-than-life movie screen.
“It’s a little bit like a—many, many centuries ago, where people gathered around the fire to tell their stories. I don’t think that’s going to go away in the cinema. But how the industry nurtures this comeback is a completely different story. And it needs a great deal of nurturing for that to happen. And it also needs marketing as well to new audiences that can really enjoy what we’ve all been enjoying at film festivals.”
Slamdance Film Festival Director Peter Baxter