Sundance hits the road with new initiative

Eight festival films to tour the country in Jan.

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The Sundance Film Festival is taking its show on the road.

As the fest's new director John Cooper sets about putting his stamp on the Park City, Utah-based indie film gathering, the festival has announced a new initiative, dubbed "Sundance Film Festival U.S.A."

As part of the lead-up to the festival's final weekend, Sundance will send eight filmmakers and their films to eight cities throughout the country on Thursday, Jan. 28. The films will be selected from the fest's official program, which will be announced in December.

They will play in local arthouses, along with an introductory video featuring Sundance Institute president Robert Redford as well as highlights from the fest.

"We thought it is time to experiment with physically expanding our reach. We feel a responsibility to bring independent filmmakers and films to a larger audience -- so when better than during the festival itself?" said Cooper, who has also had a hand at other efforts to exhibit Sundance titles outside the fest such as the ongoing Art House Project and Sundance Institute at BAM.

On the same evening, in Park City, the fest will kick off its awards weekend under the rubric "Sundance Film Festival U.S.A.: On the Mountain" by presenting Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross' documentary "The Shock Doctrine," based on the book by Naomi Klein.

The film, first presented as a work-in-progress at the Berlin Film Festival, looks at how shock is used to implement economic policy in vulnerable environments. Winterbottom, Whitecross, Klein and Redford will take part in a discussion following the screening.

"The concept behind Sundance Film Festival U.S.A. is to ignite dialogue as people across the country engage in a collective film experience. It is an extension, really, of the work we have done for decades: supporting the independent voice, bringing artists to the table and inserting art more and more into the social context of how we live," Redford said.

The theaters and cities that have been chosen to host the visiting filmmakers are: Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor, Mich.; Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline, Mass.; BAM, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Music Box Theatre, Chicago; Downtown Independent, Los Angeles; Sundance Cinemas Madison, Madison, Wis.; the Belcourt Theatre, Nashville; and Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, San Francisco.

The Sundance Film Festival runs January 21-31.