German Town to Launch Its Version of Sundance, Raindance Festivals

The "Snowdance" festival in Bavaria will kick off in January and aims to become a hotspot for local independent filmmakers.

COLOGNE, Germany - Landsberg am Lech, a small town in northern Bavaria, is hoping to become the German answer to Park City with the launch of a new, independent film fest, the Snowdance Festival.

The name is a deliberate attempt to evoke both Sundance and the London Raindance festival and the goal of Snowdance organizers is for the annual event to become a similar hot spot for local indie filmmakers. The new festival comes amid an explosion of similar independent focused fests, from Sundance London to the Sundance Institute's inaugural 4-day Summer Film Festival in Los Angeles this August.

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The definition of independent film, however, is a tricky one in Europe, where even the most avant guard productions typically receive support in the form of public TV funding and state subsidies. Germany already has several "independent" film festivals that show such publicly-backed features, most prominently the Oldenburg Film Festival, now in its 20th year.

On its website, Snowdance defines independent as independent form German TV, promising to showcase around 20 feature-length productions and a further 20 short films that were not backed by one of the country's television networks.

German film star Heiner Lauterbach (Rossini) will act as patron for the Snowdance Festival, which will hold its inaugural event January 31- February 2, 2014. Thomas Bohn, an established TV director, will be the festival's art director.

A jury made up exhibitor Torben Schiller, Kurt Tykwer, film curator and historian, and father of Cloud Atlas co-director Tom Tykwer and Claudia Raeder, a representative from the Landsberg cultural department, will select the festival line up. An independent jury will judge the competing films.