Which Crowdfunded Sundance Film Will Be the Biggest Festival Success?

By  · Published on January 3rd, 2014

There’s no shortage of film-related projects stumping for cash on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, but come winter, there’s always a special smattering of films looking for fundage on the site, and for one simple reason – they’ve been accepted into the Sundance Film Festival and they need financial assistance to facilitate that dream. It certainly sounds strange to those who associate Sundance with recognizable stars and gifting suites, but for all the “Hollywood Goes to the Snow” coverage and buzz the festival pulls in, there are still a bevy of struggling filmmakers who genuinely need help to get to Park City to see their film screen.

In an ideal situation, crowdfunding exists to help creative minds craft works that they could not afford on their own (or, as is the case with many projects, work that they pointedly do not want to be privately funded by a big studio, business, or bank) thanks to the support of interested consumers (are you likely to donate to a stranger’s project if you don’t want to somehow enjoy it yourself?). Sundance, for all its glitz and glamour and big parties and big names, still ostensibly exists to serve the independent film community. As such, this year’s festival boasts a number of buzzed-about selections that turned (and, in some cases, are still turning) to the good-hearted people of the Internet to gather some scratch. So just who is that going to pay off for?

Life Itself

Perhaps the best-known feature on this list, Steve James’ documentary on dearly departed film critic Roger Ebert turned to IndieGoGo for some funding. Our own Nathan chronicled the film’s campaign a few weeks back, and he pretty effectively lays out the reasons why this film deserves your buck. As of now, the film is over seventy percent funded, and James’ film offers plenty of fun rewards for backers. How fun? How about people able to watch the movie as it premieres at Sundance?

Based on its steady pre-festival buzz and its very subject matter, Life Itself should end up being the big crowdfunded winner at this year’s Sundance. But, hey, that doesn’t mean you need to ignore the other features getting to Park City on donated bucks.

The Measure of All Things

A Fund This Film veteran (as of last week), Sam Green’s latest documentary is a live one – literally. Loosely based on the ever-popular Guinness Book of World Records, Green certainly needs to be in person in Park City to orchestrate his unique doc, and he’s going to be! The film’s Kickstarter campaign is now fully funded, but you can keep donating to get some fun rewards.

While it’s hard to tell how Green’s live show will translate to further screenings around the world, this fresh spin on moviemaking will likely invigorate the slumping Sundance crowd.

The Foxy Merkins

Okay, guys, The Foxy Merkins needs your help. The latest feature from the team behind Sundance favorite Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same is complete (and, hey, it’s already picked up nominations from the Independent Spirit Awards), but the ladies behind it want to a) actually go with their film to Sundance and b) push out screenings to other venues around the country. Feeling generous? Slide them some cash over at their Kickstarter page.

The Foxy Merkins will screen no matter what at the festival, and that awards buzz and continued affection for Seeks Same will make it a must-see for hardcore Sundance fans.

Obvious Child

Another Fund This Film alum, Gillian Robespierre’s Jenny Slate-starring feature (as expanded by the writer and director’s original short) sounds hilarious. The film’s Kickstarter drive is ticking right along: with eleven days to go, the film is nearly ninety percent funded. Like The Foxy Merkins, the film is complete, but the production’s team want some cash to get to Sundance and to help market and get word out about the film. Given how adorable the project’s various rewards are, that should not be a problem.

Sundance is notoriously crammed with very dramatic dramas, and Obvious Child sounds like the perfect way to combat those dark-hearted drama blues. It’s already on our schedule (and maybe that spells success? We hope!).

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Despite the apparently ballooning link between crowdfunding and Sundance this year, 2014 will not mark the first use of either website to get an indie film over the edge. Last year, films like An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, Newlyweeds, and Bass Ackwards took to Kickstarter for fundage, and previous years saw the inclusion of Kickstarted films like the short Tub and features like I Am Not a Hipster and Resurrect Dead. Popular 2013 selection Blood Brother used an IndieGoGo campaign to drum up funds for the fest. (It’s interesting to note that both sites are also crowded with campaigns asking for funds for films and regular old people to hit Sundance, even without an official invite from the festival – read: films that won’t screen as part of the festival and people who want to go just for fun. Most of those don’t appear to have panned out.)

The Sundance Film Festival runs from January 16 to January 26. We will be there and stuff.

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