DENVER — The Sundance Film Festival is coming to Colorado with screenings being shown virtually to moviegoers starting this week.
For the first time in 43 years, the Utah based indie-fest will be showing its films virtually by producing online and satellite screenings at 20 screen houses across the United States and Puerto Rico. One of those venues is the Sie Film Center in Denver.
“It’s been a lot of fun working with Sundance,” Denver Film Artistic Director Matthew Campbell said. “We’ve tried to create a schedule of films that really speaks to our community and create a program specific to the Denver audience.”
Denver Film is a local non-profit that runs and owns the Sie Film Center on Colfax Avenue. Like most independent movie venues across the country, the film center has been closed to the public for nearly a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Campbell said it's been rough being closed since last spring.
“We’ve had to tighten our belts and there were furloughs and salary reductions,” Campbell said. "We got a PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loan last year and we’re getting grants with the new stimulus package, but it’s been hard -- not just for us but for everyone, so we can’t say, ‘Oh, whoa is us.'"
The Sie Film Center is the only theater in the state to host the event and moviegoers will be socially distanced. The screenings will run for seven days and individual groups will be required to rent out the entire theater for $600, with all the proceeds going back to the theater.
“We’re selling basically as a private rental or a pod screening for you and 9 of your closest friends or family,” Campbell said. “You have the theater to yourself for that screening and it comes included with popcorn and soda.”
The center will show 12 films during the event with the screenings starting this Friday and lasting thru the following Tuesday. According to Sundance, drive-ins, independent arthouses and a network of local community partnerships will be participating to provide worldwide access for storytellers and audiences to come together.
“Obviously Sundance is the staple of film festivals in the U.S. It is the launching pad for most American independent cinema and it really starts the festival season,” Campbell said. “This is just to get the word out to remind people, hey, theaters are still relevant, we’re still here, movies are still being made and still being released, [and] we just had a big pause of that this past year.”
The goal is to help independent theaters across the country feel hopeful and keep the Sundance Film Festival tradition alive on the big screen.
“To have a little taste of going back out and doing that and seeing some fun exciting films the day that they premiere,” Campbell said.
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