Sundance Film Festival Considers Athens as Host City
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Sundance Film Festival Considers Athens as Host City

Athens-Clarke County’s film liaison recently confirmed the local government’s submission of a proposal for hosting the iconic Sundance Film Festival beginning in 2027, but he is not providing any details.

That appears to be the path being taken by most of the 15 cities invited earlier this year by the Sundance Institute to submit proposals for hosting the independent film festival. The event, created by actor Robert Redford, has been held in Park City, Utah since its inaugural year of 1984. The festival routinely attracts tens of thousands of people.

With the event’s contract with Park City set to expire in 2026, the Sundance Institute decided earlier this year to gauge the interest of other communities in hosting the film festival. Athens-Clarke County was among the 15 cities culled from the initial expressions of interest and invited to submit proposals for hosting the festival. Two other Georgia cities, Atlanta and Savannah, also were invited to submit proposals, and both have done so.

“We wouldn’t be undertaking this initiative if we didn’t think we’d be a good choice to host it and gathered information to help demonstrate this to those making the decision,” noted Athens-Clarke County film liaison Jeff Montgomery said in a recent email to the Athens Banner-Herald confirming the local submission to the Sundance Institute.

Asked in a subsequent email whether the government would be releasing the proposal submitted to the Sundance Institute, Montgomery said it would not, relying on an exemption in the state’s public records disclosure statutes.

The city of Savannah is adopting a similar posture, with its only public revelation thus far being a statement from Trip Tollison, president and CEO of the Savannah Economic Development Authority.

“Savannah is the perfect backdrop for large-scale events like the Sundance Film Festival,” Tollison said in a statement on the city’s bid. “Not only do we host more than 17 million visitors each year, but the city also comes together to execute two already existing large-scale events – the Savannah Music Festival and the country’s third largest St. Patrick’s Day parade.”

The city of Atlanta breaks the mold, at least partially, in terms of disclosing details about bidding to host the Sundance Film Festival. The city has assembled an impressive website touting its bid for the festival, online at https://tinyurl.com/59a4fdx8.

In addition, a recent news release from the city government touts $2 million in pledges of support from “the city of Atlanta and its partners,” although details on those pledges are not available.

More: Athens joins 15 other cities in seeking to host Sundance Film Festival

Because the Sundance Institute is not revealing the names of the cities that were asked to submit requests for proposals for hosting the Sundance Film Festival, it is difficult to track down exactly from where submissions outside of Georgia might be coming.

But according to various media reports, some of the cities that have at least expressed interest in hosting the film festival include Minneapolis, Santa Fe and Buffalo.

According to an online story from the Park Record newspaper, Park City is submitting a proposal to keep the Sundance Film Festival, but city officials are not providing information on the dollar value of any direct payments, in-kind contributions, or other incentives being offered.

There is also a wider effort to at least keep the festival in Utah, potentially with a move to Salt Lake City. In a statement emailed to the Banner-Herald, Utah Film Commission Director Virginia Pearce confirmed that the Utah Host Committee had submitted a proposal to the Sundance Institute.