Slamdance Timeline


1995 – FAILURE IS A FRIEND Instead of walking away when a wild bunch of filmmakers didn’t get their films into Sundance they got together and started Slamdance. The guerrilla upstart was supposed to last a year but a shared desire kicked in to help the next generation of artists.

1996 – INNOVATION, PART 1 The opening of Slamdance ’96 broke down but Steven Soderbergh, producer of the opening night film “The Daytrippers”, got out his screwdriver to mend the projector. Directed by Greg Mottola, “The Daytrippers” went on to win Slamdance’s first Grand Jury Prize, screen at Cannes and gain international acclaim. Slamdance became the first festival to screen a film through video projection. The projector weighed nearly 400lbs. Though internet connection was in short supply, Slamdance became the first festival to play an online showcase of short films.

1997 – ALUMNI SUPPORT Anthony and Joe Russo premier their first feature “Pieces” with Steven Soderbergh in attendance. Steven produces their next feature and launches their careers.

1998 – ‘BY FILMMAKERS, FOR FILMMAKERS’ Slamdance filmmakers begin to program the festival. No other festival is programmed this way.

1999 – ‘FOLLOWING’ BY CHRISTOPHER NOLAN “I’ve made other films but Slamdance was the right place to start”. Chris Nolan’s groundbreaking film, made for less than £10,000 is discovered at the festival.

2001 – PARK CITY’S WILD RIDE Slamdance uses an old silver mine building as festival HQ. Maintenance miners surface from underground while The Roots play opening night. Short films “The Accountant” by Ray McKinnon goes on to win an Oscar® and David Greenspan’s “Bean Cake” wins a Palme d’Or at Cannes.

2006 – ‘PARANORMAL ACTIVITY’ changed the movie industry’s perception of Slamdance when Oren Peli’s $10,000-budgeted first feature was acquired by Paramount Studios. The film turned into their most profitable franchise of all time. Just as important, the festival helps launch the career of Lynn Shleton with the premier of “We Go Way Back” that wins the Grand Jury Prize.

2009 – YEAR-ROUND FILMMAKER SUPPORT Slamdance partners with Xbox for a global video on demand program for festival films. The collaboration is the first time a major OTT platform partners with a festival. Year-round programs now include the Screenplay Competition, On The Road screenings and $99 Special film productions.

2013 – NUMBERS When Slamdance started, it received 48 films. In 2013, the festival receives over 7,500 submissions from every continent. After playing at the festival 20 out of the 29 feature films secure distribution. “The Institute” by Spencer McCall reaches number one on the iTunes documentary movie chart.

2015 – NEW PROGRAMS Slamdance launches DIG (digital, interactive and gaming) in Los Angeles for independent creators working outside of traditional media. Slamdance Polytechnic launches an inclusive educational program for new ideas and creative methods in filmmaking. The program is organized by alumni and industry partners.

2017 – GRANTS & MENTORSHIP Slamdance alumni Anthony and Joe Russo announce the inaugural AGBO Fellowship. Yassmina Karajan wins the inaugural award for her short film “Rupture” receiving $25,000 in prize money and mentorship from Anthony and Joe.

2019 – THE FIRST 25 YEARS Slamdance celebrates this milestone as an ongoing experiment that has proven, year after year, when it comes to discovering talent and launching careers, the independent and grassroots film communities can do it themselves. Andrew Patterson’s premier “The Vast of Night” receives international critical acclaim and is acquired by Amazon. Steven Soderbergh returns to the festival as executive producer of Brian Welsh’s “Beats” and premier’s his own film “High Flying Bird”. Alumni who first showed their work at Slamdance have earned over 17 billion dollars at the Box Office.

2020 – MERAWI & BONG Merawi Gerami’s “Residue” premiers Slamdance and wins the Grand Jury Prize. The film’s comment on black life in America is one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year. Alum Bong Joon Ho who premiered “Barking Dogs Never Bite” at Slamdance in 2000 makes Oscar® history with “Parasite”, the first non-English language film to win Best Picture.

2021 – INNOVATION, PART 2 In response to the pandemic, the Slamdance Channel is launched providing a free to watch online festival and year-round programming that shares profits equally with filmmakers. For Slamdance Miami, organizers create the “Slamdance Index”, an equitable entry fee system for filmmakers based on the per capita income of the country they come from. The festival launches Unstoppable, a new program organized by creators with disabilities for creators with disabilities.

2022 – DAY SHIFT Tyler Tice’s Slamdance award winning screenplay is developed by alumni and produced at Netflix. It stars Jamie Foxx and Snoop Dogg. In August, “Day Shift” becomes the most watched film in the world.

2023 – LOS ANGELES PARTNERSHIP & FESTIVAL RECORD Slamdance partners with Anthony and Joe Russo’s company AGBO to create the DTLA Summer Showcase. This accessible showcase includes award winning short films, Unstoppable filmmakers, DIG artists, new comedians and a screenwriting workshop. Slamdance receives over 13,000 annual submissions, a record.