The Slamdance Film Festival takes place each year in Utah at the same time as the Sundance Film Festival, competing with Sundance to provide what its supporters consider a truer representation of independent film-making. It champions beginning directors with no or limited budgets. The festival began in 1995. Other affiliated Slamdance film festivals have since been created internationally, in countries like China and Poland.
Known as a festival "by filmmakers for filmmakers," Slamdance was founded by [Dan Mirvish], Jon Fitzgerald, ShaneKuhn and Peter Baxter, and launched to showcase undistributed films by emerging filmmakers. Festival discoveries have included directors such as Christopher Nolan (Memento), Marc Forster (Monster's Ball) and Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite). The Slamdance Screenplay Competition has discovered a number of talented screenwriters, including Joshua Marston (Maria Full of Grace) and Nicole Kassell (The Woodsman). In the 2005 Festival, Slamdance screened the documentary Mad Hot Ballroom, which was immediately purchased by Paramount Pictures for the largest amount ever for a feature-length documentary.
The Festival has recently leveraged its brand-name recognition to launch Slamdance Media Group, a distribution, talent-management and production company.
In addition, the Festival has entered into a production deal with Angel Baby Entertainment and Maverick Films to produce one film per year from its Horror Screenplay Competition. Originally announced in November, 2006, by Festival head Peter Baxter and Angel Baby Entertainment's Gregory Segal, the production deal's first selection as the winning script from the Horror Screenplay Competition is Slaughter, a screenplay by British writers Nathan Brookes and Bobby Lee Darby. One movie per year will be produced from the competition under this arrangement, with the movie screening at Slamdance the year after its production.
The festival also hosts a computer and video game competition called "Slamdance Guerrilla Games Competition."
In January 2007 the festival for the first time dropped a finalist. The game Super Columbine Massacre RPG! was announced as a finalist in late November 2006, but the controversial game was dropped by Slamdance founder Peter Baxter with no outside pressure as initially reported. In response to this 6 other finalists withdrew from the competition in protest, Jonathan Blow withdrew Braid, thatgamecompany withdrew flOw, Waking Games withdrew Once Upon a Time, the developers for Toblo withdrew their game (however, on January 16 the college which they attend, the DigiPen Institute of Technology against their wishes "overwrote our decision and readmitted Toblo to the Slamdance Festival", because the developers did not consult the college prior to their withdrawal decision), Queasy Games withdrew Everyday Shooter, Nick Montfort withdrew Book and Volume, and The Behemoth withdrew Castle Crashers. The University of Southern California has also withdrawn its sponsorship of Slamdance over this controversy.
On 2007-01-26, the date the game awards were to be presented, a panel discussion with the remaining finalists resulted in the withdrawal of the "Official Jury Selection" for all finalists, and no awards were handed out. On the same day, director Brian Flemming convinced his fellow film jurors to nominate SCMRPG for a "Special Jury Prize" for Best Documentary, an unofficial award not endorsed by the competition itself. However, just before the award ceremony, Baxter told Flemming that legal considerations prevented SCMRPG from receiving the award.