Sundance Blog: Preparations for the festival take months

The marquee at the Egyptian Theatre on Main Street is seen at night during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

PARK CITY, UTAH — While we're watching films at the Sundance Film Festival, I thought I'd tell you a little about our preparations for the fest and give you a few facts.

Our preparation for coverage of the Sundance Film Festival started in June 2012.

We picked a place to stay that's close to the Holiday Cinema, where most press/industry screenings are held. We coordinate with public relations firms that hold screenings at the festival.

Since we're covering the festival for the University of Nebraska at Omaha's “Journal of Religion & Film,” each editor makes a list of films that he or she thinks are related to religion and from those lists we make a master list. We plan our schedule for reviewing movies from the master list.

Some of the movies on our list do not turn out to be about religion or about religion in any significant way. When we are in Park City, we sometimes find movies that we think are about religion, but that were not on our original list. One year, for example, we were giving a screener by an actor we met late one night on the bus ride home. He was hoping that we would watch the movie. It turned out that this film, “Westbank Story,” took the Oscar that year for the best short film.

Our reviews are published under the title “Religion and Independent Film: Report from Sundance 2013” in the journal.

We try to write our reviews immediately after seeing a film and before we see other movies so we don't get them confused. While we're at the festival, we also interview some filmmakers and cover the red carpet for some of the bigggest screenings.

Some facts about the festival:

» This year's festival is the 29th annual Sundance Film Festival. The festival was originally held in Salt Lake City and it was called the Utah/Us Film Program. In 1981, it became the United States Film Festival and moved to Park City. In 1984, Robert Redford's Sundance Institute, an institute that promotes independent filmmaking, agreed to manage the festival and it became the Sundance Film Festival.

» The Sundance Film Festival includes approximately 65 short films, selected from over 8,000 submissions.

» The Sundance Film Festival includes a little over 100 feature length films, selected from roughly 4,000 submissions.

» This year's Festival includes movies from 29 different countries and 44 of the movies are by first time directors.

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