May 1, 2024 - News

Cleveland won't pursue Sundance bid

Image of the Egyptian Theatre in Park City, Utah, with a marquee reading "Sundance Film Festival"

Photo: Mat Hayward/Getty Images

Cleveland believes in its film festival, so much so the city won't be vying for one of the movie industry's biggest annual events.

Why it matters: Wednesday marks the deadline for cities to submit a request for information to host the Sundance Film Festival beginning in 2027.

  • In April, Sundance announced it would consider other U.S. cities as hosts for the iconic festival, which has called Utah its home since 1978.

The intrigue: Thanks to Playhouse Square's 11 performance spaces, Cleveland would seem uniquely positioned to host a festival that uses as many as 13 film venues.

Yes, but: David Gilbert, president and CEO of Destination Cleveland, tells Axios the tourism group is not submitting information to Sundance and will continue to focus on the Cleveland International Film Festival, which wrapped up its 48th year last month.

What they're saying: "As with all large-scale events, we take many factors into consideration when deciding whether to participate in a search process," Gilbert says.

  • "In this case, one of those factors is that Cleveland is home to one of the nation's leading and long-running film festivals."

Zoom in: CIFF draws 25,000 to 35,000 people over 11 days to Playhouse Square each year.

  • The festival hosted more than 350 feature and short films from 60 countries in 2024. It generates a local economic impact of more than $5 million annually.

Zoom out: Sundance is considered one of the "Big Five" prestige film festivals, along with festivals in Toronto, Venice, Cannes and Berlin.

  • Sundance has premiered several past Oscar nominees, including "Winter's Bone," "Get Out," "Boyhood," "Whiplash," "Nomadland" and "CODA."

By the numbers: Sundance 2024 showcased 91 feature films and 53 shorts to more than 80,000 attendees in January.

  • Sundance generates an economic impact of more than $100 million for Utah.

The other side: The Sundance Institute said it will not comment on cities that have expressed interest in the festival.

The bottom line: Regardless, Cleveland is happy to keep growing CIFF.

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