They're calling it Sundance Film Festival U.S.A., and it will work like this. On Jan. 28, while the festival is taking place in Utah, eight filmmakers from the fest will travel to theaters around the country to show their movies to local audiences, followed by the customary Q&A. For the local audiences, it will be a decent approximation of what a real Sundance screening is like, minus the insane crowds and absence of parking. Several of the chosen cities are even in snowy climes, so you won't have to miss out on that aspect of Sundance attendance. If you're lucky, for the full effect, maybe you'll even run into a journalist complaining about the weather.
The selected theaters are: Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor, Mich.; Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline, Mass.; BAM, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Music Box Theatre, Chicago; Downtown Independent, Los Angeles; Sundance Cinemas, Madison, Wisc.; Belcourt Theatre, Nashville; and Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, San Francisco. Tickets will be sold through the individual theaters. Each location will get a different film, and we won't know what those films are until after the festival announces its programming in December.
Dispatching filmmakers to appear with their movies live and in person is a cool innovation, and a good way to spread the Sundance vibe beyond the confines of Park City. But it makes me wonder if the next logical step is to simply beam the films via satellite to theaters around the country, the way they do with concerts and special events. As big as Sundance is getting, and as small as Park City is staying, I'm glad to see the festival expanding its reach any way it can.