The largest and most prestigious film festival in the United States, Sundance, is joining with the Atlanta Film Society to bring its Utah institution to Atlanta.
Chris Escobar, the founder and executive director of the Atlanta Film Society and owner of the Plaza Theatre, joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to talk about this partnership, which is part of Sundance’s “Satellite Screenings Initiative.”
The Sundance Film Festival was created in 1978 by the Sundance Institute to promote independent filmmakers. Before the pandemic, the festival took place in Park City, Utah, each January.
Escobar says, “What’s unique about Sundance is that it’s a rare opportunity where even the most unknown name, director, actor with even the most low-budget project can really be raised to the highest point of visibility or recognition, praise and accomplishment. It’s really a transformative opportunity for the short filmmakers and certainly those who have featured films to have their names known and really create a trajectory for their whole careers.”
All the new 2021 films will be available online. Eleven of the films will be screened both indoors and outdoors at The Plaza Theatre and at the drive-in theatre at Dad’s Garage Drive-In. The full list of films can be found here.
Outside of the screenings, there will be another component to the week-long festival called “Beyond Film.”
“This will be happening online primarily. This is the opportunity where we, in Atlanta, will get to do some original programming of conversations around film,” Escobar said. “For us, we’re holding conversations around the films that are playing, many of them with the filmmakers, around the topics and themes that those films raise.”
He continued, “Because Sundance is not only about the films that they’re playing, but also about film as the art form, via that as a series or reality…so we’re going to include some of the recognizable names that are participating in Georgia’s film industry and we will have some conversations around that.
“We will also have conversations around the topics of innovation and inclusion. This is something that Atlanta, we, have taken on uniquely to say, ‘This is what we have to say to the national conversation.’ And if we have an opportunity to speak to the world-wide audience, we’re going to try to hone in on the areas we feel like we especially carry some weight and can bring something interesting and different to the equation.”
The Sundance Film Festival will take place from Jan. 28 through Feb. 3. You can find the schedule for drive-in screenings, virtual screenings, and Q&A sessions here.