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Guide to the Sundance Film Festival

The Sundance Film Festival, presented by the Sundance Institute, is among the most famous and beloved of the world's independent film fests. It's held each January in Park City, Utah, but many of the events and showings are hosted in the nearby towns of Ogden and Salt Lake City, which are easily accessible using your Utah car rental. The venues throughout these locales present new pieces of cinema by directors and producers from around the globe, but it has a local appeal and shows films by little-known Utah residents. Whether you're a cinefile or just looking for a good excuse to visit this delightful destination, start planning your January Sundance trip with this handy guide:

History of the Sundance Film Festival

This fest was founded in 1981, when American director, producer and Academy Award-winning actor Robert Redford organized the first installment with some of his friends from the industry. The aim was to support, expose and recognize independent filmmakers and encourage those interested in the art of movie production to get involved. The first year was a much more humble event compared to today's Sundance Film Fest - 1981 presented works by only 10 filmmakers who worked in collaboration with writers and directors all aimed at breaking boundaries in the industry. It didn't take long for the fest to grow to massive proportions, and today it showcases movies by hundreds of artists and welcomes some 50,000 viewers each year.

Structure of the fest

This fest generally spans 10 days in January. It's divided into two parts, and each film is shown twice (once in the first five days and again in the second five days). For that reason, tickets packages generally include admission to showing in either the first or second half of the fest. Fest-goers tend to be more attracted to the first part of the fest, which lets guests be the first to view new films, but the second part of the fest features some of the best parties, the closing celebrations and the renowned awards ceremony. You can also choose to buy tickets to individual screenings or passes that give you unlimited admission to all showings and events.

Movies of the Sundance Film Festival

With your Salt Lake City car rental, you can view a wide selection of the drama, comedy, documentary and animated films, among other genres, that make up the selection of Sundance Film Festival movies. Some are up for competition for a prestigious award in one of several categories, including "World Cinema Dramatic Competition," 'Animation Spotlight" and "U.S. Documentary Competition." Others that are not chosen to compete are placed into seven categories, such as "Documentary Premieres," "NEXT" and "From the Collection." In total, there are about 200 movies shown at each installment, a collection that's carefully chosen from around 12,000 submission from all around the globe. In addition to the screenings, screenwriter Q&As, actor meet and greets, theater programs and roundtable discussions are among the other activities held at Sundance.