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Published on May 23, 2024
Georgia Cities Atlanta, Athens, Savannah in the Running to Host Sundance Film Festival as Utah Fights to Retain EventSource: Wikipedia/Frank Schulenburg, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Sundance Film Festival, known for showcasing independent films and launching fresh filmmakers, is contemplating a change of scenery, and Georgia cities are lining up for the spotlight. Among the contenders are Atlanta, Athens, and Savannah, reported FOX 5 Atlanta. These cities join a list of 15 potential locations, including the festival's long-standing home, Park City, Utah, all vying to woo the prestigious event away from its mountain retreat.

With Sundance having brought in $118 million to Park City just last year, it's no wonder that Utah isn't ready to roll out the red carpet for competitors just yet. The state is concocting a plan to keep the festival in its grasp. "They're really renewing this," Dominic Patten, executive editor for Deadline, said in an interview with FOX 5 Atlanta, adding that they see bids from cities like Atlanta as a significant threat. However, representatives from Atlanta and the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce are playing it coy, having not immediately responded to requests for comment on their bids.

Despite the keen interest from other locales, some insiders believe Sundance isn't serious about packing up. Deadline's sources suggest that the festival is leveraging relocation talks for a better deal to adapt to the film industry's shifts and the event's ballooning size. Last year bore witness to Sundance's dip in attendance and fewer films, furthering complaints about high costs and overcrowding in Park City. Deadline reports that "It will come down to money and venues, but mainly money," clearly indicating the high stakes involved in the bid.

Nonetheless, not all signals point to Sundance's departure from the Beehive State. "This is a team effort, not just Park City," Mayor Nann Worel told Deadline, evidencing the commitment at state and local levels to keep the film festival at home. A task force for Sundance, including board member Amy Redford, is meticulously reviewing bids, with final decisions expected later this year after all proposals are in by June 21.

The outcome, with Hollywood and the wider film world watching, is set to be a blockbuster reveal at the end of Sundance 2025. Atlanta and its Georgian counterparts, along with other national hopefuls, remain in the running to snag the glittering crown of the indie film festival kingdom. As the race heats up, the industry is left wondering whether Sundance will stick with Utah's snowy peaks or set its scene in a new venue, savvy to the evolving demands of the silver screen’s future. "Let see what the others have to offer," a Sundance stakeholder cryptically teased Deadline, setting the stage for a dramatic climax to this film festival saga.