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Sundance Film Festival Courting New Host City for 2027 and Beyond

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The Sundance Film Festival may kick the snow off its boots once and for all.

The annual celebration of independent film announced on Wednesday that it is open for pitches from cities across the United States on becoming the new permanent home of the festival starting in 2027.

Sundance has taken place in the luxury mountain haven of Park City, Utah since 1981 (except for two virtual years during the pandemic). It started off as the Utah/U.S. Film Festival in Salt Lake City in 1978. It will remain the host and headquarters of Sundance for two more years, at which point Park City’s contract with the Sundance Institute is up for renewal. Utah will remain in the mix as a continued home for Sundance.

“We are in a unique moment for our festival and our global film community, and with the contract up for renewal, this exploration allows us to responsibly consider how we best continue sustainably serving our community while maintaining the essence of the festival experience,” said Eugene Hernandez, festival director and head of public programming, adding the group is “motivated by our commitment to ensure that the festival continues to thrive culturally, operationally, and financially as it has for four decades.”

While the organization did not elaborate on how the festival needs to expand in its accessibility and inclusion, sources familiar with the plans said infrastructure is an ongoing need. Sundance received a record 17,000 film submissions last year. A location with easier access to airports and state-of-the-art movie theaters would not only serve programming, but legacy and first-time attendees.

The state of Utah is inarguably a part of Sundance’s DNA, and the festival’s contribution to the state economy is considerable. It hasn’t always been Kumbaya. In recent years, chatter on the ground in Park City said that in a post-pandemic world, reclusive millionaires and hardcore skiers are tired of the annual Hollywood shuffle the town has to endure. In 2016, war broke out over the use of private chopper services shuttling festival goers from the airport at Salt Lake City to Park City, blasting wind and noise pollution over the expensive homes of Summit County on their travels. The county successfully filed a restraining order to ground the flights.

Beginning April 17, a Sundance special committee will accept RIFs (requests for information) from hopeful hosts through May 1. The process will move to a proposal stage which will conclude by the end of June, insiders said. Founder Robert Redford and his daughter and board member Amy Redford will be involved in the process. A final host city will be announced by the end of 2024 or in early 2025.

“We look forward to reviewing each proposal and working together with all of our potential collaborators to determine how we can collectively meet the needs of the independent film ecosystem and broader creative community,” added Ebs Burnough, Sundance Institute Board Chair.