Slamdance: we’re staying in Park City with Sundance |

Slamdance: we’re staying in Park City with Sundance

by Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

Peter Baxter, the president and cofounder of the Slamdance Film Festival, says the event will remain in Park City, as it has since it was launched in 1995. Park Record File Photo

The Sundance Film Festival will continue to have company in Park City each winter.

The leader of the Slamdance Film Festival, which runs alongside Sundance, said in an interview he intends to continue to hold the event in Park City. Peter Baxter, the president and a cofounder of Slamdance, said he wants to continue scheduling the festival so it coincides with the much larger Sundance.

City Hall recently reached an agreement with Sundance organizers ensuring that festival is held in Park City through at least 2026. Slamdance and City Hall do not have the same sort of contractual relationship, but the festival, held at the Treasure Mountain Inn and begun in 1995 as an alternative to Sundance, has thrived nonetheless.

"Every year we always look at the future of Slamdance. Every year since 1995, we’ve decided to remain in Park City," Baxter said.

There was friction between the two festivals in the early years of Slamdance, but the leadership at Sundance since then has appeared to accept the Slamdance presence. Baxter said the decision to continue to hold the festival in Park City is partly based on Sundance.

"Slamdance and Sundance have grown and developed over the years. I really believe the two festivals complement each other," Baxter said.

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Slamdance, slightly shorter in length than Sundance, holds its screenings and other events at the Treasure Mountain Inn on upper Main Street. It is a central location for Slamdance as Sundance crowds mass on the street. Many of its showings are full, but the screening rooms are smaller than the ones used by Sundance. Slamdance in 2014 is scheduled to run from Jan. 17 until Jan. 23.

Baxter said Slamdance has a long-term agreement to stage the festival at the Treasure Mountain Inn. He said other cities in the U.S. have over time approached Slamdance in an effort to woo the festival to those places. He declined to discuss which ones, but he said there have been several.

He said Park City, though, offers Slamdance filmmakers the best opportunities since the movie industry converges on the city for Sundance. He said it is "invaluable for our filmmakers" to be in Park City. Having the two festivals at the same time "makes for a greater independent showcase of film," he said.

The City Hall-Sundance deal, reached after a lengthy negotiation, was hailed by both Park City leaders and Sundance as a compromise as the festival conceded the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, which sometimes occurs during Sundance. In those years, Sundance will begin a few days later than it normally would have. That frees up Park City for skiers during a three-day weekend. The deal includes a package of financial incentives for Sundance.

Baxter said he wants to keep Slamdance’s dates similar to those of Sundance, but he said he had not considered the details of the shift for the holiday.

He said Slamdance has brought more business to Park City through its growth. The festival could eventually approach City Hall for some sort of financial assistance, Baxter said.

Slamdance is seen by many as being among the top tier of domestic film festivals. It is, by a wide margin, the most notable film festival to have been launched to coincide with Sundance in Park City. There have been lesser festivals that were not able to gain the same foothold as Slamdance.