Film mecca Sundance opens for 2011

A general view of atmosphere during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2011 in Park City, Utah.
A general view of atmosphere during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2011 in Park City, Utah. Jemal Countess/Getty Images

The Sundance Film Festival began Thursday night in Park City, Utah.

Of the thousands of films submitted, just over 100 made the cut to be screened here. About half of them are in competition.

One film from each of four categories screens on the first night – domestic and international dramatic features, along with U.S.-made and world documentaries.

This country’s documentary, "Sing Your Song," is about the artist and human rights activist Harry Belafonte. The international documentary, “Project Nim,” follows a scientific experiment to raise a baby monkey like a human child.

Sundance founder Robert Redford offered this warning about festival hype at the opening day press conference. “Buzz can be dangerous. Buzz can turn into a cold fish. And so I never paid attention to that. What I have noticed is that when a certain number of films get attention whether they are being bought or not, there are an increasing number of films that don’t get picked up I think are wonderful. I guess you would call them 'orphan films.'”

Redford says he wants to make sure all the films Sundance selects will reach wide audiences. “I would see that as a next venture for Sundance Films as to how to take those films that did not get picked up that do have merit and find a place to put them out there.”

The fest that began 30 years ago as a showcase for independent and up-and-coming filmmakers continues in Park City until a week from Sunday.

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