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Sundance Festival's Latest Venture: Dial Up a Movie 


Movie star Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival is teaming up with global cell phone operators to bring short films to cell phones to give people around the world access to independent films.

Robert Redford founded the Sundance Institute to help independent filmmakers 25 years ago. Since then, the Sundance Film Festival has become the premiere showcase for independent films from all over the globe.

Redford says the mission of the Sundance Institute extends far beyond the festival.

"A lot of people when they hear the name Sundance in terms of identification think of the festival," he said. "The festival seems to be the shining part of Sundance that attracts most of the attention, but for us it is not the main event. The main event is in development and discovery and support for new voices in independent film."

GSM Association is a global trade group representing 700 cell phone companies.

Marketing Director for GSM Association Bill Gajda says the Sundance Institute is taking advantage of the mobile technology available to further its aim of supporting independent filmmakers.

"Today with more than 2.6 billion users and adding more than 1,000 per minute, mobile phones represent by far the largest communications medium in the world," he said. "So as technology has developed from voice on mobile to today where mobile represents a rich multimedia platform, the mobile industry is starting to change the way people are educated and entertained."

Gadja says the collaboration will be an opportunity for millions of subscribers to receive innovative content on their phones.

"With the Sundance Institute short film program, we're going to demonstrate that mobile is a compelling medium in its own right and able to distribute thoughtful, creative and original content on a scale that has never before seen," he said.

The Sundance Institute selected six filmmakers to make short films to debut on phones, including Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the team behind successful independent film Little Miss Sunshine.

The films will be three to five minutes in length. The Sundance Institute will premiere the films at the 3GSM World Congress, the largest annual mobile event in the world, in February 2007 in Barcelona, Spain. Broader distribution through mobile carriers will follow later in the year.

Redford says cell phones are the "fourth screen" medium after television, cinema and computers.