Thursday, November 5, 2009

Belcourt Theatre lands Sundance film event

For one night in January, the Sundance Film Festival will come to Nashville.
The long-running independent cinema showcase will dispatch eight films and their makers to eight American cities on the night of Jan. 28 as part of an initiative called Sundance Film Festival U.S.A., and Nashville's Belcourt Theatre is the only Southern city on the list.

"Nashville is a city rich in emerging artists and culture," said Brooks Addicott, a Sundance spokesperson. "This fits best with the Institute's overall mission and the goal for Sundance Film Festival U.S.A."

The films haven't been announced, but all will be official selections from the Utah-based festival. A video message from Sundance founder Robert Redford with highlights from the festival will precede each screening, and each filmmaker will do a Q&A with the audience.

"It's just you watching a film and talking to the artist," said Stephanie Silverman, the Belcourt's managing director. "That's the real fun at festivals, and that's the experience we get to replicate for a night."

This isn't the first time the Belcourt and Sundance have collaborated. In 2006, Sundance invited Belcourt staff to attend the festival and curate a program of films to bring back to Nashville through its Art House Project. Since then, the Belcourt has participated in events associated with the project.

Still, this new announcement confers a new level of cachet to Nashville's independent theater.

"This is actually stepping it up in that we're actually a participating venue for the festival," said Toby Leonard, the Belcourt's director of programs.

Other theaters

The other theaters picked for the event, dubbed Sundance Film Festival U.S.A., 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.) and Sundance Kabuki Cinemas (San Francisco).

"The concept behind Sundance Film Festival U.S.A. is to ignite dialogue as people across the country engage in a collective film experience," Redford said in a statement. "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."

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