SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL
Every year in January, thousands of filmmakers, screenwriters, actors, agents and producers make a winter pilgrimage to Park City, Utah, for two of America's most important and prestigious film festivals: The Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals. If Hollywood is the Mecca of slick, multi-million dollar studio movies, then Park City is the homeland for independent film.
This Winter Term class gives students a working vocabulary to talk and write about film. Students learn important techniques of film, including photography, camera angles, camera movement, lighting, editing, sound and mise-en-scene. Class begins in Greencastle with a crash course in the history of independent film. In addition to readings from Louis Giannetti's Understanding Movies, David Cook's A History of Narrative Film, and other books on independent film, we watch some of the great work that has emerged from the festival over the years. In order to study independent films, students also need to know some background of the Hollywood Studio System, which we cover during the first days of class. We also discuss the art of film criticism and the basic elements of a film review, using some of the experts as our guide—from Pauline Kael of The New Yorker to The New York Times' A.O. Scott.
Once settled in Park City, students see at least 10 movies and write film reviews on at least two of them. There are a wide variety of films shown at the festival—from feature films, dramas and documentaries, to foreign films, animation, and shorts. The group also attends and reports on film workshops, conferences and technology seminars. Throughout the trip, students keep a journal of their impressions of the festival, notes from symposiums, panels, and interviews with people they meet.
In addition, students will learn firsthand how film festivals are run. A new feature of the Sundance and Slamdance Winter Term is a two- to three-day internship at Slamdance. We've arranged with Slamdance to have all the students perform mini-internships at the film festival. In exchange for working at the festival for 15-20 hours, Slamdance arranges two seminars (expressly for DePauw students) with filmmakers and organizers, and students will be invited to the opening Filmmakers' Brunch. In addition, students are able to see all Slamdances films free of charge.