The competitions, a midnight film program and Sundance's star-laden lineup of non-competition premieres have produced many critical and commercial hits over the years, including "sex, lies and videotape," ''Precious," ''The Blair Witch Project," ''Clerks," ''Winter's Bone" and "In the Bedroom."
Actors and filmmakers owe their careers to Sundance and the exposure they got there, among them "Super Size Me" director Morgan Spurlock, "Girlfight" star Michelle Rodriguez and "Napoleon Dynamite" star Jon Heder, who returns to the festival this year with writer-director So Yong Kim's child-custody tale "For Ellen," starring two other Sundance veterans, Paul Dano ("Little Miss Sunshine") and Jena Malone ("Donnie Darko").
"I feel like I owe Sundance everything as a filmmaker," said "Queen of Versailles" director Greenfield, a photographer whose debut film, the eating-disorder documentary "Thin," premiered at Sundance in 2006.
"I feel like I had a really charmed entrance into the documentary world by being able to have my first film at Sundance," he continued. "I wasn't really looking for a second career, but Sundance allowed me to feel like a filmmaker and really get confidence in that part of my voice as an artist."
Delpy, whose Sundance premiere "2 Days in New York" is a sequel to her 2007 film "2 Days in Paris," said the warm and appreciative audiences at the festival help take the edge off the nerve-racking experience of showing a film for the first time.
She likened filmmaking to laying an egg — not as in something she expects to bomb at the festival but as in something that cost her effort and struggle.
"It was painful and it hurts, but it's an egg, and it's out of me," said Delpy, who does not want to be so attached to her creation that its Sundance reception could do her harm.
"I take the business very seriously, and I'm super-professional," Delpy said. "But at the same time, I'm not going to kill myself about it. I'm very happy with the film, and we'll see. You never how people react until you show the film."
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