11 breakout actors and directors (and their films) to remember from Sundances gone by.More
The first iteration of the Sundance Film Festival, in 1978, could hardly have been more different from the international media frenzy it is today. For a start, it was in Salt Lake City; it moved up the mountain to the far smaller Park City in 1981 on the advice of director Sydney Pollack, who wisely suggested it would attract a more high-profile audience if it was in a ski resort. And it wasn't called Sundance—it was the Utah/US Film Festival. One throughline is Robert Redford, served as the chairman of the 1978 festival and founded the nonprofit Sundance Institute and the Sundance Channel (the name "Sundance" comes from his character in the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid). Since then, Sundance has grown to be the largest independent film festival in the U.S., and a byword for creative and unique cinema.
In its storied history, the festival has launched (and incubated) the careers of numerous filmmakers and actors, many of whom are now household names. Here, a look back at 11 breakout moments from Sundances gone by: a reminder, perhaps, that amidst all the free snowboots and cocktail receptions, the essence of the festival—daring storytelling and innovative filmmaking—has always been alive and well.
Sex, Lies, and Videotape is widely recognized as the first major hit to come out of Sundance. The film was picked up by Harvey Weinstein's Miramax, and won the Cannes Film Festival's highest award: the Palme d'Or. Since then, Soderbergh has gone on to direct Traffic, Erin Brockovich, and the Ocean's Eleven franchise. Despite conflicting statements about retirement, he has gone on to TV projects (he directed every episode of the first season of The Knick), a novella (Glue), which he released via Twitter, and even importing exotic drinks (Singani 63, a Bolivian liquor derived from distilled Andean muscat grapes).