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Sundance Film Festival opens in Utah
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The 2008 Sundance Film Festival opened in a Utah ski resort on Thursday as organizers said the annual gathering of independent filmmakers from across the world is adapting itself to a changing world.

The 11-day festival, with public film screenings and parties for filmmakers in Park City and other venues in the Salt Lake City area, is organized by Sundance Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to the discovery and development of independent film artists and audiences.

"As from the beginning, the Sundance Film Festival is about discovery of new talent and of issues that are resonating with filmmakers," said American director and actor Robert Redford, who is also president and founder of Sundance Institute.

Founded by Redford in 1981 in the mountains of Sundance, Utah, the institute has grown into an internationally recognized resource for thousand of independent film artists by sponsoring the annual film festival and launching various development programs for the filmmaking community.

"This year filmmakers are putting personal focus on issues relating to the world we live in rather than addressing them on a macro-political level," Redford told a press conference at Park City's Egyptian Theater.

A total of 125 feature films from 34 countries were selected from 3,624 submissions this year, along with 83 short films from 17 countries representing dramatic, documentary and animated forms selected from more than 5,000 submissions, according to festival organizers.

"We can never predict what will capture the collective consciousness of filmgoers, however, the range of diverse voices this year suggests a festival at its very best -- thought provoking, enticing and expansive," said Geoffrey Gilmore, director of the Sundance Film Festival.

The festival gets underway Thursday night with the Opening Night film, the world premiere of "In Bruges," written and directed by first-time feature filmmaker and Oscar-winning playwright Martin McDonagh.

With an international cast starring Ralph Fiennes, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, the black comedy tells the suspenseful, twisted tale of two London hit men ordered to take a forced vacation in Bruges, Belgium, and how their subsequent time in exile goes awry.

Boasted as the premier showcase for the best new films by American and international independent filmmakers, the Sundance Film Festival is expected to provide audiences with abundant opportunities to discover today's most innovative films.

The festival includes four competition categories: Documentary Competition, Dramatic Competition, World Documentary Competition and World Cinema Dramatic Competition, each with 16 contenders selected from hundreds of submissions. Winners will be announced at the end of the festival. 

(Xinhua/Agencies January 18, 2008)

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