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Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News
Fliers are posted all over Park City promoting films playing in various January "dance" festivals.

Sundance Film Festival officials would prefer that audiences and filmgoers don't confuse their event with the Slamdance Film Festival.

Or with TromaDance for that matter.

Or with SchmoozeDance.

Or with X-Dance.

You get the picture.

Through the end of the month, both Park City and Salt Lake City have full "dance" cards, and not just because of Sundance, which remains the premiere showcase for American independent film (and these days, around the world).

And despite Sundance officials' misgivings, the annual arrival of their festival also heralds the arrival of competing film events.

Many of these have come and gone over the years — including No Dance, Sleaze Dance, Scumdance, Undance and Fundance.

However, one constant companion to Sundance for more than a decade has been Slamdance, a festival described by its organizers as being "by filmmakers, for filmmakers."

Festival co-founders Peter Baxter and Dan Mirvish brainstormed Slamdance after having their films rejected by the Sundance programming committee. The idea was to add at least one other venue to screen independently made features that Sundance wouldn't take.

And apparently it was a good idea.

Slamdance success stories include "Batman Begins" filmmaker Christopher Nolan, who premiered his 1999 film "Following" at Slamdance, and Utahn Jared Hess, who used the success of his Slamdance short film "Peluca" in 2003 to make a longer version — which turned into the 2004 Sundance hit "Napoleon Dynamite."

Over the course of 13 years, Slamdance has begun to resemble what Sundance was in its genesis. This year, the festival will screen 29 movies, 20 of which are competing for narrative-feature and documentary-feature awards.

But like any teenager, the 13-year-old Slamdance event still "breaks rules," according festival president Baxter, adding that it has also "stayed true to its roots and embodies the spirit of independent creativity."

Slamdance has also set off the first festival controversy of the year, after officials pulled the role-playing game "Super Columbine Massacre RPG!" from its 3-year-old Guerrilla Gamemaker Competition.

Baxter and other festival officials pulled the game, which re-creates the 1999 Colorado high school shootings, due to legal concerns.

In retaliation, at least one sponsor — the University of Southern California's Interactive Media Division — pulled out. And half of the 14 entrants did as well, though at press time the festival was still planning to hold that competition and to award a $5,000 cash prize to the winning entry.

A less-controversial addition to this year's festival is a Horror Screenplay Competition, sponsored by Angel Baby Entertainment.

If you go

What: Slamdance Film Festival

When: Through Jan. 27

Where: Various locations, Park City, Salt Lake City

How much: $6-$11 for screenings (discounts for Utah residents), all-event passes $125

Phone: 323-266-1786

Web: slamdance.com

Other alternative festivals

SCHMOOZEDANCE: This year's festivities include KidzDance, devoted to youth-oriented films, an open worship service and a meet-and-greet with the makers of "Unsettled," a documentary debuting at Slamdance.

When: Friday

Where: Temple Har Shalom, 1922 Prospector Ave., Park City

How much: Free

Web: jewishfilm.com

X-DANCE: Now in its seventh year, the action sports film festival hosts some of the world's top sports filmmakers and athletes.

When: Friday-Monday

Where: Main Street Mall, 333 Main, Park City

How much: Free

Web: x-dance.com

QUEER LOUNGE: Events at a mix-and-mingle spot for gay and gay-friendly festivalgoers and filmmakers.

When: Friday-Tuesday

Where: Silver King Hotel, 1485 Empire Ave., Park City

How much: Free

Web: queerlounge.org

TROMADANCE: TromaDance: Shlock movie director and producer Lloyd Kaufman (the "Toxic Avenger" movies) will be on hand for screenings of selected short films and other events.

When: Monday through Jan. 27

Where: Various venues, Park City, Salt Lake City

How much: Free

Web: tromadance.com

THE PARK CITY FILM MUSIC FESTIVAL: An event doubling as a performance showcase for composers and a film-music competition.

When: Tuesday through Jan. 28

Where: Main Street Mall, 333 Main

How much: $10 for screenings; all-day passes $30

Comment on this story Web: parkcityfilmmusicfestival.org

LDS FILM FESTIVAL: The brainchild of local filmmaker Christian Vuissa ("Baptists at Our Barbecue") returns for its fifth year with a 24-hour filmmaking marathon, presentations from LDS filmmakers and a screening of "Outlaw Trail," from Ryan Little ("Saints and Soldiers").

When: Wednesday through Jan. 27

Where: SCERA Theater, 745 S. State, Orem

How much: Opening night free; $4-$6 for screenings (day passes $28, all-event passes $45)

Web: www.ldsfilmfestival.com


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com