Magazine article Variety

Filmmakers First

Magazine article Variety

Filmmakers First

Article excerpt

If the organizers of the Slamdance Film Festival wanted to capitalize on the current industry Zeitgeist, they couldn't have done much better than programming documentary "Dennis Rodman's Big Bang in Pyongyang" right alongside James Franco's "Yosemite," with the "Interview" actor appearing for a Q&A with Variety's Scott Foundas. The rippedfrom-the-headlines timing was purely coincidental, of course, and that's precisely how the fest's leaders like it.

Taking place once again at Park City's Treasure Mountain Inn, Slamdance still entrusts its lineup selection to an ever widening corps of programmers - more than 100 participated this year, looking at more than 5,000 submitted films - drawn from filmmakers who've participated in the festival before. Providing what president and co-founder Peter Baxter calls the "organized chaos" of the festival, the diffuse array of programming voices is essential to the fest's mission.

"We allow our filmmakers and our programmers to make all their own decisions, and that creates this sort of film democracy, if you will," Baxter says. "The chaos is upheld throughout all the programs."

According to Anna Germanidi, a vet Slamdance staffer in her first year as festival director, themes nonetheless tend to emerge, organically and "randomly." This year, she cites a number of documentaries that focus on comebacks - "characters who used to be famous, now getting back to doing what they knew how to do best" - as well as a preponderance of horror pics and thrillers in the narrative competition.

Keeping the festival program in the hands of filmmakers is one way that the fest has retained a spirit of independence, maintaining an anarchic vibe even as it enters its second decade. …

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