That’s the number of films that were submitted to this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The all-but-official restart for the independent film scene, Sundance is known for launching the careers of talented independent filmmakers (see: Benh Zeitlin, David O. Russell & Steven Soderbergh); those who were once one of those 12,218 individuals pinning their hopes and dreams on becoming a part of arguably the world’s most famous film fest, and maybe – JUST MAYBE – finding some kind of success because of it. Of 4,057 feature films submitted to Sundance this year, 118 were selected to screen in Park City. Of those 118, just 21 have been purchased for some type of distribution. Compared to last year’s 50+ sales, this year’s success stories have some people scratching their heads. Is this a bad omen for what’s to come in independent film this year? Were there so many niche films, or films that were trying too hard, or were there just fewer stand-outs than in years past? The truth is, it’s impossible to explain why things happen the way they do at film festivals. The 2014 Sundance audience is not the same as last year’s, and that means that what movie-goers, distributors and filmmakers collectively took away from this year’s fest differs from 2013’s outcome.
While I only lived the Sundance 2014 experience vicariously through other festival programmers (Thank you, @BearsFonte and @BradWilke!), I know this much is true – independent film is alive and well as long as film festivals exist to showcase and propel filmmakers into the spotlight. And, while distributors might not be swooping up films like they did last year, I can’t wait to learn more about those 118 feature films and feel inspired to find some true cinematic gems to program in this year’s Destiny City Film Festival.