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Slamdance announces new director

by Tracie Fails, of the Record staff

Minnesota native Drea Clark knew nothing of film before moving to Los Angeles to intern for the Slamdance Film Festival in 1997. She never dreamed that a decade later she would be named director of the festival that sparked the careers of Steven Soderbergh (Traffic), Marc Forster (The Kite Runner) and Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite).

True to the spirit of Slamdance, the "Guerilla International Film Festival" that began in 1995 as an alternative to the Sundance Film Festival, Clark has remained energetic yet humble about her growing role, attributing her success to hard work and enthusiasm.

"Entertainment’s a strange place," she said in a phone interview on Monday. "It’s one of the few places where that American Dream can be realized. If you work hard, it can hopefully be fruitful for you."

Slamdance will announce its 2008 Film Slate today, promising more diversity than in the past, Clark says, with just one of the 10 narrative films set in Los Angeles. The committee chose three foreign films, two from the United Kingdom and one from Latin America.

"It’s such a good lineup this year," she said. "These films also really buck the trends of a lot of independent submissions, with a greater range of socio-economic backgrounds than we’ve had before."

The committee, an ethnically diverse mix of movie junkies, chose the slate through group viewings and extensive arguing until they reached a consensus.

"We have our babies that we can fight for, but in the end it’s a group decision. We try to make it as fair as possible, but it is subjective," Clark admitted.

They have purposely kept the slate small, despite receiving over 3,000 entries. This gives filmmakers more attention and maintains the homey feel that sparked the original Slamdance.

"We’re like a family," Clark said. "We don’t really let go of anything."

Clark’s biggest hope for this year’s event is to share that close-knit feeling with viewers.

"We want to convey the shining happiness that comes with seeing these filmmakers’ efforts. I really hope people get that sense," she said.

The Treasure Mountain Inn will again host the festival, which runs parallel to the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 17 to 25. To see year’s slate, visit http://www.slamdance.com.


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