Mayor Brown: Buffalo planning bid to host Sundance Film Festival

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The City of Buffalo could soon be the home of the biggest independent film festival in the U.S.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown announced Wednesday during his State of the City address that his administration responded to a request for information that could bring the Sundance Film Festival to the city.

“With our community’s growing film industry and a significant number of great venues, we believe we are uniquely positioned to take this world-class event to the next level,” Brown said. “Think about what that would mean. Thousands of visitors and filmmakers coming into our community for a 10-day stretch, pumping millions of dollars into our economy.”

Brown also thanked writer and producer Tom Fontana, a Buffalo native, for partnering with his administration on the effort.

The annual festival was founded by actor Robert Redford in 1978 and later taken over by the Sundance Institute in 1984. The 10-day event showcases various original films and documentaries, with many critically acclaimed pictures either premiering or gaining notoriety at Sundance over the years. Recently, 2022 best picture winner “CODA” and 2024 best documentary feature “20 Days in Mariupol” premiered at the festival.

Sundance has always been held in Park City, Utah but due to the event’s contract with the city being up for renewal in 2027, discussions about it potentially moving have taken place.

The 2025 and 2026 festivals will still take place in Park City and Salt Lake City. However, the institute is taking steps to look at all options through a request for information and request for proposal process, beginning immediately. The final selection is expected to be announced by early 2025. The event attracts tens of thousands of festivalgoers each year.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Atlanta, San Francisco and Minneapolis are among other cities that could try to attract the festival.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Adam Gorski is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team in 2022. You can find more of his work here.

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