Sundance’s Submission Window for New Locations Closes Today — Here’s What We Know

It’s been just over two months since we learned the surprise news that the Sundance Film Festival could leave its longtime home in Park City, Utah when its contract with the city expires ahead of the 2027 festival. The Sundance Institute in April launched a formal process to determine where its next host city could be, and today, it wraps up a key step in that process.

Friday June 21 is the official deadline of Sundance’s Request for Proposal window, meaning cities that were selected by Sundance in the first window — the Request for Information — had to formally submit a bid outlining their plan complete with specific details about how they would support the festival in their city. The next step will be for Sundance to go through all the proposals and select its finalists, with a final decision coming between Q4 of this year and Q1 of next year.

More from IndieWire

No city has emerged as a frontrunner, even Park City, which is lobbying to keep the festival and could very well be a contender. But today the festival will know just which cities are really interested and which are moving on, and it’s expected that the Institute will compile a short list of contenders before announcing any finalists.

“The Sundance Institute is currently in the process of completing a fair and comprehensive review of all possible partners. We will be providing more information about the next step of our process once the review process is complete,” a festival rep told IndieWire.

While Sundance hasn’t provided a list of locations, several have emerged as candidates either publicly or via media reports. Others are likely to emerge as candidates but have kept their intentions under wraps for now. A few, such as San Francisco, Denver, and Traverse City, MI, have already been reported to no longer be in the running, not proceeding to a formal bid after going through the initial RFI window. That deadline closed on May 1.

Some are currently being vocal about rolling out the red carpet for Sundance and have already outlined in public why they’d be the best new home for it. On Thursday, a day before the deadline, the mountain town of Boulder, CO pledged a $1.5 million incentive as part of its proposal to host Sundance. Boulder is in a more liberal state than Utah, it’s still a cozy mountain town but a much bigger one, a nearby Colorado town is home to a Sundance Director’s Lab, it’s not a lengthy drive from the Denver airport, and Robert Redford even has some childhood connections to the town. But Boulder also hosts its own film festival that takes place in March, and Sundance has expressed a desire to remain in its traditional dates between late January and early February.

“The Sundance Film Festival has a deep history in the Mountain West, and we can think of no better home for its next act than Colorado. With the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop and our deep commitment to the arts, we can help the Festival achieve even greater success while preserving what makes it special, building on Colorado’s iconic creative brand and our strong arts community,” Colorado Governor Jared Polis said in a statement.

Members of the Utah Film Commission also announced it had advanced to the RFP process, suggesting there’s still a good chance Sundance remains in Park City or expands further into Salt Lake City or elsewhere.

Other local leaders have revealed they submitted RFI bids in the first window, but it’s unclear which of those cities advanced to the next RFP stage. RFI bids included Minneapolis, MN, Buffalo, NY, Santa Fe, NM, and three cities in Georgia: Atlanta, Savannah, and Athens. Atlanta of course has a bustling film community due to the enormous number of productions that shoot in the area, making it a viable candidate. But Santa Fe is similarly growing as a film production hub and may be another option should Sundance want to remain on the West side of the country. Officials from Athens-Clarke county also recently said the city “remains interested” after the initial RFI window passed.

As to why Sundance may be considering a change, many have speculated that the cost of travel for attendees and filmmakers and talent alike has gotten too great. It’s the reason the Slamdance Film Festival, the smaller, sister indie festival that also took place in Park City, cited for why it this year left Park City in exchange for Los Angeles. It’s also never been the most popular event among locals in the midst of ski season.

But beyond that, Utah just before Sundance this January passed a bathroom bill that is considered to be among the most restrictive and anti-trans pieces of legislation in the country. At an IndieWire event at Sundance, non-binary trans performance artist Alok Vaid-Menon called out the legislation as something designed to “punish trans people for having the audacity to be beautiful in a world that would rather us be banal.”

For now though, we have Sundance in Park City for another two years, both in 2025 and 2026. The 2025 edition of Sundance takes place January 23 through February 2.

Best of IndieWire

Sign up for Indiewire's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.