Todd McCarthy has an essay that I couldn’t agree with more about how to bring Sundance back into focus:
I have no illusions about trying to return to the fest’s good old days, whenever precisely those might have been, but after thinking about it long and hard I’ve identified what, for me, represents the festival’s biggest sore spot, and have come up with a radical solution to the problem itself and related ills:
Eliminate the Premieres section.
Ostensibly, the Premieres consist of bigger-budget, higher-profile films than are commonly found in the competition categories. They often already have American distributors. Even more often, they have significant, even famous names attached to them, be they actors, directors or producers. In theory, Premieres exist to provide the festival with somewhat more mainstream and larger films than fit elsewhere, and to offer a venue to familiar Sundance names (Richard Linklater, Gregg Araki, Rebecca Miller, et al.) who have outgrown the competition.
In practice, however, what the Premieres have come to provide is an excuse for glitz, hype and movie stars — and, more often than not, lousy films. After featuring 18 pictures in 2003, the section was unaccountably expanded to 24 titles last year and this, creating far too many slots than can ever be filled with good or even decent films. For too many years, I made a point of seeing a lot of Premieres titles, lured by vaguely promising talent or enticements created by Sundance’s invariably raving catalog blurbs. Year after year, I was consistently disappointed, wishing I had checked out a more obscure competition or foreign title instead.
Read the whole thing: Variety.com – Sundance 2005 [no reg. req. for this!!]