A brief history of Sundance

The Sundance Film Festival was founded in 1978 by the Utah Film Commission. It was originally titled The Utah/United States Film Festival, and was intended to attract prominent directors, as well as tourists, to the Beehive State.

During its early years, the event focused on hosting seminars and smaller, national film competitions.

In 1981, the festival moved from Salt Lake City to Park City, and began accepting documentaries and short films.

Although many believe Robert Redford founded the festival, he wasn’t actually involved with the program until the mid-1980s.

In 1985, Redford’s brainchild, the Sundance Institute (founded in ’81), took control of The Utah/United States Film Festival, and it began skyrocketing to the top of the independent film world.

In 1991, The Utah/United States Film Festival officially became The Sundance

Film Festival. By this time the event had already featured such films as Steven Soderbergh’s “Sex Lies and Videotape,” and the Coen Brothers’ “Blood Simple.”

Since The Sundance Institute took control of the festival in 1985, the event has grown into what is widely considered one of the most important, and unquestionably largest film festivals in the world.

Compiled by

John Leonard