The indie cinema Cinderella story goes like this: Your film gets into Sundance, and not just in — it gets noticed. Before it’s even had its premiere, it’s being talked about. And then it does play, and everyone loves it: endless applause, great reviews, and standing in line for coffee you overhear the people saying “That movie? Oh, I’ve heard it’s really good.” This, my friend, is the famous Sundance buzz, and before you know it, distributors are jostling for your attention. You’re the toast of the town, you win a prize, and you leave with a deal, a sizable check in your pocket and assurances that your film with be in theaters everywhere in a few months. You, my friend, are going somewhere!
Well, maybe. Sundance, which is famous for making careers, is almost as famous for its bubble effect. Caught up in the giddiness of the festival, woozy from the altitude, industry members, journalists and other festival-goers go gaga over titles that, in the harsh light of post-Park City life, often don’t look nearly as promising as they did at their Egyptian Theatre premiere. The biggest Sundance acquisitions can turn out to be the biggest bombs, while even wild successes don’t always portend a solid career to follow — yesterday’s standing ovation can easily become today’s TV gun-for-hire still struggling to get a second film off the ground.
The 2009 Sundance Film Festival starts today, and so, in honor of its hothouse effect, IFC.com and the SundanceChannel.com have teamed up to present the 25 films that set Park City on fire, only to lead to nothing further of note from the filmmaker. Check it out:
[Photo: 2007 Egyptian Theatre Marquee, by Brian Ach, courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival]