As Sundance Kicks Off, Execs Hail Blurring of Film-TV Line #Sundance

In their opening-day press conference Thursday, Sundance Film Festival organizers celebrated the rise of television as a cultural and festival force as Park City, Utah braced for an unprecedented wave of TV activity.

“Interesting TV and independent film are running neck and neck,” said festival director John Cooper. “That’s true in terms of freshness, quality, and the things we want to see as adults in this world. I think it’s exciting.”

He noted that two TV premieres on tap for the festival: HBO’s The Jinx, and Animals, an animated series produced by Mark Duplass (a co-creator of HBO’s just-launched Togetherness), are unique in terms of premiering at the festival without distribution. Its backers hope they will close a network or streaming deal based on Sundance exposure. In 2014, Sundance screened episodes from Amazon’s Transparent and Pivot’s HitRECordon TV and in 2013 Sundance TV’s limited series Top of the Lake screened in full.

Robert Redford recalled getting his start as an actor in TV decades before founding the Park City event. “Live TV and theatre gave me my foundation,” he said. “I believe in TV. It’s part of the same fabric of storytelling as film. The 2 of them together are blurring … We’ll see if they come together as one or stay separate. But TV is advancing faster than major filmmaking.”

Video of the press conference was streamed live online, as will be the case with select other events during the festival, which runs through Feb. 1.