Slamdance, Tromadance crash the independent parties in Park City

By Trevor Hale, Red Pulse Editor

Sundance might be celebrating its silver anniversary, but it’s not the only festival in town this week and it’s not the only one with something to celebrate, either. Although it is the event that gets most of the public and Hollywood attention, both Salt Lake City and Park City have become home to not one, but two other notable alternative film festivals8212;Slamdance and Tromadance.

For Slamdance, it’s been 15 years since the organizers8212;filmmakers who had been rejected by Sundance8212;crashed the party. Slamdance, the festival that debuted Christopher Nolan’s (“The Dark Knight”) first film, “Following,” as well as Marc Forster’s (“Quantum of Solace”) debut “Loungers,” is still gaining ground. This year, the festival includes films starring Ron Perlman (“Hellboy”) and Dominic Monaghan (“Lost”).

It wasn’t easy at first, and Sundance officials and advertisers were furious that they no longer held exclusive rights to January. Slamdance has been advertised as a film festival “by filmmakers for filmmakers” and has gained significant exposure in Hollywood. In 2005, the documentary “Mad Hot Ballroom” screened and was immediately purchased by Paramount Pictures for an amount never before given to a documentary.

The festival not only welcomes those films with lower budgets, but has also been able to translate its successes into other areas. Slamdance Media Group was recently launched and acts as a distribution, talent management and production company. Slamdance, located in Beverly Hills most of the year, hosts a screenplay writing contest each year, and it’s open to anyone with a typewriter.

For Lloyd Kaufman and Tromadance, it’s been a full decade of low-budget horror/comedies that would never be accepted by Robert Redford and his band of judges.

On the gorier, campier side of things, Tromadance, while not big on Hollywood stars, is huge on extra low-budget creativity. Kaufman, who founded Troma Entertainment in 1974, has directed several Troma classics such as “The Toxic Avenger” and “Class of Nuke ‘Em High.” He got the idea for his own film festival from “South Park” creator Trey Parker as a way to rebel against the Sundance Festival’s way of limiting attendance, showing “independent” films that cost millions of dollars to produce and charging ridiculously high entry fees.

Troma has been instrumental in launching careers of future Hollywood stars such as Kevin Costner, Samuel L. Jackson, Marisa Tomei and Vincent D’Onofrio. Many others have starred in a film for Troma way back in the 1980s or early ’90s, and while they might not be as highly regarded as some of their later work, when you’re an actor, a job’s a job8212;even if you are fighting vampires or dancing on a beach for no apparent reason in raunchy sex comedies.

Both Tromadance and Slamdance have films playing all this week, so if you’re feeling a little burned out from the overly artistic, experimental nature of some Sundance features, there are alternatives. Slamdance hosts most of its screenings at the Treasure Mountain Inn in Park City (check out www.slamdance.com for movies and times) and Tromadance will hold screenings at the Salt Lake City Public Library on Thursday and at Sidecar Bar on Main Street in Park City on Friday (www.tromadance.com).

Don’t miss your chance to check out some of the lesser-known films you might not be able to see again.

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