Timeline: Dance dance revolution

Sundance's origins go back even further than its 25 years

Spring 1978
USC professor Arthur Knight persuades BYU film graduate Sterling Van Wagenen to create a festival celebrating independent filmmaking. Utah film commissioner John
Earle signs on as a partner and Van Wagenen convinces his cousin's husband, Robert Redford, to be the inaugural chairman.

June 1978
Utah Governor Scott Matheson announces the first U.S. Film-National Forum film festival will be held Sept. 6-12 in Salt Lake City.

July 1978
An ad runs in The Hollywood Reporter soliciting independent filmmakers to submit their work to the festival.

September 1978
Now named the Utah/US Film Festival, the event debuts in Salt Lake City with a lineup dominated by classic Hollywood films. Claudia Weill's "Girlfriends" wins the $5,000 grand prize for an independent feature film.

March 1980
Board member Sydney Pollack suggests moving the third festival to Park City and rescheduling it during wintertime to attract Hollywood players.

January 1981
The event is reborn in Park City as the United States Film and Video Festival. More than 7,000 tickets are sold.

June 1981
Robert Redford's newly established Sundance Film Institute holds its first Filmmakers Lab in Park City.

January 1982
The festival establishes a separate competition category for documentary films.

August 1984
The Sundance Institute takes over sponsorship of the festival.

October 1984
Tony Safford, formerly with the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C., signs on as program director.

January 1985
Joel and Ethan Coen's debut feature "Blood Simple" wins the festival's Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic.

January 1986
"The Big Easy" becomes the first major Sundance sale after Columbia Pictures head David Puttnam agrees to acquire it for distribution.

January 1989
"sex, lies, and videotape," Steven Soderbergh's debut feature, is honored with the festival's first Audience Award: Dramatic. It loses the Grand Jury Prize to Nancy Savoca's "True Love."

August 1989
Alberto Garcia, a protege of Tony Safford, is appointed the festival's competition director.

January 1990
Safford announces he is resigning as programming director and, as his last official act, renames the event the Sundance Film Festival.

April 1990
Geoffrey Gilmore takes over as programming director. He remains in the position today.

January 1992
Festival buzz surrounds newcomer Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs," but the film loses out on the Grand Jury Prize to Alexandre Rockwell's "In the Soup."

January 1993
Robert Rodriguez thrills the festival crowd with "El Mariachi." The media embraces the tale of its $7,000 budget.

January 1994
Kevin Smith unveils "Clerks." The low-budget wonder ties with Boaz Yakin's "Fresh" for the Filmmakers Trophy and is picked up by Miramax Films.

January 1996
Harvey Weinstein confronts Jonathan Taplin at Mercato Mediterraneo and causes a scene by accusing the producer of cheating him out of the rights for "Shine."

Castle Rock sets a festival record by paying $10 million for worldwide rights to "The Spitfire Grill."

January 1999
Filmmakers Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez scare up $1.1 million from Artisan Entertainment for their horror film "The Blair Witch Project." It grosses more than $140 million domestically.

Rumors swirl that Miramax has shelled out more than $10 million to acquire the comedy "Happy, Texas." Exec Mark Gill insists the final figure is only $2.5 million.

January 2001
Christopher Nolan wins the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for "Memento." The film leaves Park City unsold, so Newmarket, its production company, opts to self-
distribute the movie.

January 2004
Fox Searchlight and Warner Independent duke it out over Jared Hess' "Napoleon Dynamite." Searchlight emerges victorious with a last-minute bid of $3 million-plus.

January 2006
Fox Searchlight sets a new Sundance sales record acquiring Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton's "Little Miss Sunshine" for more than $10 million. It grosses more than $100 million worldwide.

January 2008
Focus Features pays $10 million for Andrew Fleming's "Hamlet 2." It grosses less than $5 million worldwide.
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