Sundance festival a click away

Utah too cold? Take a digital trip

NEW YORK -- Digital coverage of the Sundance Film Festival has reached new heights this year, with a new YouTube Sundance Channel Video Blog Festival, shorts for sale on iTunes, official blogs from the network and fest sponsors, an avatar community on Second Life, offerings from MySpace and countless independent Web sites covering the fest.

Through its first collaboration with the Sundance Channel, YouTube will post daily videos from "Four Eyed Monsters" directors Arin Crumley and Susan Buice, who developed their autobiographical feature after meeting online. The pair will interview filmmakers and travel to screenings, panels and parties around Park City.

"They provide a unique perspective of Sundance as filmmakers and chronicle from the festivalgoer perspective as well," said Christopher Barry, vp digital media and business strategy at the Sundance Channel.

Another unique new venture taken by Sundance Channel is creating an "island" on Second Life, a virtual environment where computer users engage with each other as "Sims"-style avatars. After downloading the free Second Life software and registering, visitors can attend screenings and virtual parties.

In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, Lynn Hershman-Leeson will host an invitation-only screening of her ecological docu feature "Strange Culture," co-hosted by an online avatar of Tilda Swinton, on her own Neware island. A limited number of Second Life members can attend a Q&A about the film, hosted by notable community avatars, Jan. 22. The film premieres in actual reality Friday at Sundance.

Hershman-Leeson said the idea came shortly after Sundance programmer Shari Frilot let her know "Culture" was accepted at the fest. "She's involved in New Frontiers, which specializes in new technology and experimental cinema," Hershman-Leeson said. "Sundance is one of the only festivals that really acknowledges the shifts in nontraditional filmmaking."

John Cooper, who has led Sundance in new directions as director of programming, looked to filmmakers to see what was next for the festival. "They wanted to sell their films and brand them as Sundance," he said. "There's so much content out there that it creates such a need for a filter."

This led to a deal with the fest and channel to sell 32 short films at Apple's iTunes Store for $1.99 each. The films also will stream for free on Sundance's Web site along with 14 others from this year's selection.

Along with bringing Sundance films to people's homes, the Web offers a multitude of ways for anyone to get an insider's view. Twenty-two Live at Sundance mini-festival streaming videos (webcast twice a day) and 27 Meet the Artists filmmaker interviews will provide an official view of what isn't onscreen and, according to Cooper, "step deeper into who we are as a festival." Ten panels also will be podcast on the official Web site and at the iTunes Store, all for free.

Sponsor HP's blog will take a more backstage look at the festival. The blog has categories including Behind the Scenes, which will feature planning, setup and the technology at Sundance, as well as Celebrities, Party Crashers and HP Onsite Encounters, which will have more traditional blogging fare. HP execs already have begun posting on the site in anticipation of the festival, which kicks off Thursday.

Another fest sponsor, AOL Moviefone, will post Unscripted, a series of streamed exclusive interviews between filmmakers and cast members who worked on the same Sundance feature. will be one of the many independent sites covering the festival. The site features festival news, information on films appearing at Sundance and correspondent Laremy Legel reporting from Park City. also has an extensive Sundance FAQ posted on the site.

Producer and film editor Joel Heller maintains a blog focusing on documentary films and filmmakers at As part of his Sundance coverage, he has been posting podcasts of interviews with documentary filmmakers on his site up until the start of the festival.

Perennial Sundance blogger Cyndi Greening will cover the festival on her personal site,, from an independent filmmaking perspective. She also will be doing podcasts, videocasts and live webcasts from Park City. will send three bloggers to the festival. Jonathan Hickman, the site's editor, hopes to review 20 films at Sundance and also plans to stream video interviews from the festival on the site.

Niche blogs also are getting in on the act this year. Horror movie site will have an entire crew at the festival, and will cover Sundance from an urban perspective. Other blogs sending reporters to Park City include movie news site, (blogging and podcasting the fest through a professional lens), (highlighting independent offerings at Sundance) and, whose Sundance blog will be maintained by editor in chief Mark Bell.

For the computer illiterate, Sundance Channel will provide offline content in the form of "Festival Dailies," a daily half-hour fest report at 9 p.m. EST Thursday through fest's end Jan. 28. The cable channel also will feature "Ten Days of Sundance Favorites," showcasing such features from previous festivals as "Hoop Dreams" and "The Motorcycle Diaries." OFFICIAL BLOGS
HP, a Sundance presenting sponsor, goes backstage, discussing planning, setup, new technology; also discusses directors, stars, films; features comments from audience members
Features Snapshot Diaries taken by directors with digital cameras, along with insider blogs, interviews, photo galleries and video packages

Blogging from Sundance
Horror film blog crew reports from festival
Cyndi Greening on indie filmmaking; also features podcasts, video
Provides streaming video interviews, capsule reviews of at least 20 films
Laremy Legel blogs from Park City
Mark Bell's blog
Blogs from hip-hop perspective
Independent film blog from filmmakers
Several fest entries have MySpace pages
The Hollywood Reporter's Sundance crew, led by Anne Thompson, covers festival buzz, including video reports
Comprehensive coverage, multiple bloggers covering parties, films, etc.
Looks at Sundance from professional perspective, covering industry leaders and trends


Offering free podcasts from the fest, including live performances from Music Cafe, panels with filmmakers/industry reps; select podcasts from previous Sundance festivals
AOL Moviefone offers Unscripted, a series of streamed exclusive interviews between stars and directors
Features 27 Meet the Artists filmmaker interviews, 22 Live at Sundance mini-festival streaming videos (behind the scenes/panels); also features 46 of this year's 71 shorts streamed for free from their screening date to late April; 32 of those will be available for purchase on iTunes at $1.99 each
The YouTube Sundance Channel Video Blog Festival posts daily entries from Four Eyed Monster directors Arin Crumley and Susan Buice as they travel around Park City. Features shorts, podcasts, streamed self-produced videos from filmmakers

Joel Heller's Countdown to Sundance features audio interviews with filmmakers behind this year's official documentary selections
Covers Sundance news
Daily video blog from CBS on Logo correspondent Jason Bellini
Uploads daily blog to YouTube covering panels and parties
Looks at Sundance from professional perspective, covering industry leaders and trends

A download offers virtual online world Second Life that creates a "Sims"-style avatar where users can search for Sundance Channel island. Teleporting option brings you to screenings, virtual parties, afterparties, etc.; Neware island will also host invitation-only screening of Lynn Hershman-Leeson's Sundance docu "Strange Culture." A limited audience can attend a Q&A about the film, hosted by notable Second Life avatars, on Jan. 22.
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