Sundance moves forward with Utah proposal, but no word from other cities

Christopher Nolan and Robert Downey Jr. pose on the stage of Sundance Film Festival's Opening Night Gala on Jan.y 18.

Christopher Nolan and Robert Downey Jr. pose on the stage of Sundance Film Festival's Opening Night Gala on Jan.y 18. (Michael Hurcomb, Sundance Film Festival)

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PARK CITY — The Utah Film Commission announced Thursday that Park City and Salt Lake City are still in the running to host the Sundance Film Festival after 2026.

Their announcement broke the silence that had fallen over all cities participating in the future host selection process for the festival.

"We're committed to collaboratively reimagining future festivals, inspiring film enthusiasts, and preserving the festival's connection to its home state," Virginia Pearce, director of the Utah Film Commission, said in a statement.

Utah's Sundance committee includes Gov. Spencer Cox, House Speaker Mike Schultz, Senate President Stuart Adams, city and county officials, those from the tourism and film offices, local business, ski resorts, universities and others.

The Sundance Institute opened up a request for information period on April 17, where cities interested in hosting the festival could submit their bonafides. That period closed May 1 with the following cities having publicly expressed interest in pursuing the festival:

All of the above-listed cities have publicly indicated to local media they would be putting together packages for Sundance. Those announcements came with mixed sentiments, as locals wondered how their home-grown festivals would fare sharing the stage.

On Tuesday, a new phase of the bidding process opened. According to a press release by the Sundance Institute, some cities should have been selected to submit formal proposals to host the future festival. The problem is, both Sundance and the cities involved are very secretive about the whole thing, leaving many to wonder what is happening behind the scenes.

Sundance did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did the San Francisco, Atlanta and Chicago film commissions, despite multiple emails and calls. The city of Savannah declined to comment on any matters related to the festival. A representative from the Sante Fe Film Commission said its members have signed nondisclosure agreements and were legally unable to comment.

A spokesperson from the Minneapolis City Council verified through public records that the city had submitted information to Sundance for the initial phase of the process but had no information about whether it had been selected to move forward with its proposal. The city entered into a "data handling contract" agreement with the Sundance Institute, though the terms are not public.

In the initial press release, Sundance said, "Throughout the (request for information) process, the institute will remain focused on completing a fair and comprehensive review of all possible partners and will not provide comments until the next step of the process, which will occur in the summer."

The request for information process has closed, but no word yet on who the institute has solicited for proposals, aside from the Utah incumbents.

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