Ever wondered why the major festivals are so hard to get into? The programmers have seen everything:

Mr. Cooper wasn’t working all by himself, of course. He collaborates with Geoffrey Gilmore, the festival’s director for the past 16 years, and three other programmers, Trevor Groth, Shari Frilot and Caroline Libresco. But even so, the task is overwhelming. This year, those five people combed through 1,004 American and 936 international features (up from last year’s 761 and 843, respectively) and 760 American and 448 international documentaries (up from 624 and 385). Then there were the shorts: 4,311 of them (3,887 last year). It is all anyone can do just to get through them. Mr. Cooper said he had watched seven films the previous day. Mr. Groth had been watching films 14 hours a day for two months. Mr. Gilmore says that over the course of a year he watches between 800 and 1,000 films

NYT’s John Clark goes inside the Sundance machine.