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We know that every one of you have heard of Robert Redford, and of the world-famous Sundance Film Festival. But many of you probably don’t realize that behind the scenes it’s the parent organization, known as the Sundance Institute, that makes the decisions that allows all good things independent film related, to happen.

Recently, at a press conference at the Museum of Television & Radio in New York, Robert Redford announced that the Sundance Institute, a champion for independent filmmakers for over 25 years, is joining forces with the GSM Association (GSMA), whose members serve more than 2 billion mobile phone customers across the globe, to create the Sundance Film Festival: Global Short Film Project. This will be a groundbreaking pilot project that will showcase and extend the reach of the independent short film genre to mobile users worldwide.

The big news is that the organizers of the Sundance Film Festival in conjunction with the GSMA, have commissioned six independent filmmakers to create five short films, crafted exclusively for mobile distribution. All of the filmmakers participating in the project have screened films at the annual Sundance Film Festival. The six filmmakers invited to participate in the Global Short Film Project are Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE – 06 SFF), Justin Lin (BETTER LUCK TOMORROW – 02 SFF), Maria Maggenti (PUCCINI FOR BEGINNERS – 06 SFF), Cory McAbee (THE AMERICAN ASTRONAUT – SFF 01) and Jody Hill (THE FOOT FIST WAY – SFF 06).

John Cooper, Director of Programming for the Sundance Film Festival and Creative Director for Sundance Institute will oversee the project. Citing the experimental and groundbreaking nature of the collaboration, Bill Gajda, Chief Marketing Officer at the GSM Association said, “The emergence of mobile as the fourth screen is already changing the way people are educated and entertained. This project will explore the potential of the mobile medium to deliver compelling, cinematic entertainment to a global audience on an unprecedented scale.”

“Cell phones are fast becoming the ‘fourth screen’ medium, after television, cinema and computers,” Robert Redford concurred. “We feel this experiment embodies fully our quarter-century dedication to exploring new platforms, to support wider distribution of independent voices in filmmaking. We are excited about bringing this opportunity to independent filmmakers and most excited to see what they will do with it”.

While cell phones have previously been used to deliver film and entertainment content, this pilot project is believed to be the first to commission high calibre independent filmmakers to create original stories specifically for the mobile environment. The project presents creative challenges to the filmmakers who will be working with a limited budget, time and resources to make a 3-5 minute film for a small mobile screen.

The Sundance Institute will exclusively premiere these completed short films on the opening day of the world’s biggest annual mobile event, the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona next year (February 12-15, 2007). The films will be available for cell phone download during the congress for attendees, and for broader distribution through mobile carriers immediately following the event – further details will be announced early next year.

For more information about the Sundance Institute, go to / Issue 62 - September 2018
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