Slamdance moves festival out of Park City for 2021 |

Slamdance moves festival out of Park City for 2021

The Slamdance Film Festival usually takes place in Park City alongside the much larger Sundance Film Festival. Slamdance organizers on Thursday said the event in 2021 will be held in California and online amid the continued spread of the novel coronavirus. Peter Baxter, festival president and co-founder, says the changes aren’t about compromise but rather “community, accessibility and growth.”
Park Record file photo

The organizers of the Slamdance Film Festival on Thursday said the event, staged annually in Park City since the mid-1990s, will be held in Joshua Tree, California, as well as online, in 2021, a shift that will leave the community without one of the more provocative elements of film-festival week next year.

The decision against holding a live event in Park City is more evidence the impacts of the spread of the novel coronavirus will stretch into the winter and to a point nearly a year after the illness forced an early end to the most recent ski season.

The Slamdance announcement on Thursday said the festival will be held from Feb. 12 until Feb. 25. The online element will be held on the festival’s website and on YouTube. Slamdance said the online element will offer short films and feature-length films. There will be question-and-answer sessions with filmmakers, awards decided by a jury and the audience, workshops and other events that are typical for the festival when it is held in Park City.

Slamdance will also have an invitation-only location in the desert setting of Joshua Tree, east of Los Angeles and in the Palm Springs area. The Joshua Tree element is described as a “socially-distanced weekend desert retreat for filmmakers to safely gather and connect with each other and industry guests.”

The events in Joshua Tree will include outside screenings, workshops for filmmakers, industry discussions and music, Slamdance said.

“Slamdance ’21 isn’t about compromise because of the pandemic. It’s about community, accessibility and growth. It’s about Slamdance’s future and the love of independent film,” Peter Baxter, the president and a co-founder of Slamdance, said in a prepared statement.

The organizers said “we now have the exciting potential to reach a wider audience than ever before, in the true spirit of Slamdance, we still aim to make every attendee feel like they are part of a special, intimate experience. Whether they are joining the festival online from their homes around the world, or are a filmmaker attending our socially-distanced in-person Joshua Tree retreat, they will not only have access to an excellent lineup of groundbreaking new films, they also get a (free) front-row seat to witnessing the powerful artist community that Slamdance fosters.”

Slamdance usually unfolds alongside the Sundance Film Festival and is based at the Treasure Mountain Inn on upper Main Street. Although it shares dates with the much larger Sundance, Slamdance has carved out a niche in Park City and on the festival circuit as a gathering for daring filmmakers lacking large budgets. It is normally a laid-back atmosphere compared to Sundance, with tickets to many screenings still available just before the start time.

The announcement ends the speculation about Slamdance’s plans for 2021. Baxter in August told The Park Record he hoped to finalize plans by the end of October. At the time, Baxter said Slamdance was considering a festival with an in-person experience and an online one.

The Slamdance information followed in the months after Sundance in the summer outlined blueprints for a shortened festival that involves a base in Park City and venues across the U.S. Park City is expected to take a financial hit under the radically altered plans for Sundance with crowds anticipated to be thin compared to a typical year.

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