( dpa ) - The Sundance Film Festival launched its 2008 event Thursday with founder Robert Redford saying that it remained true to its independent roots despite the invasion of commercial sponsors and big money producers.
"As from the beginning, the Sundance Film Festival is about discovery of new talent and of issues that are resonating with filmmakers and artists alike," said Redford at a press conference kicking off the 11-day event in mountainous Park City, Utah.
Redford addressed the issue after last year's festival racked up more than 50 million dollars in sales. Despite somewhat disappointing box office results for independent films, this year's event is expected to do even better as studio production in Hollywood has been hit by the writers' strike and studios look to indie films to fill the gap.
An estimated 50,000 people have flocked to the normally placid ski town for the festival which will showcase 125 feature and documentary films chosen from more than 3,620 submissions from 34 countries. In addition, 83 short films were selected from more than 5,100 submissions.
In a major shift from last year when the most talked-about films dealt with the war in Iraq, the roster for 2008 is dominated by quirky comedies and dramas which are thought to have a better chance of breaking out into the mainstream.
"This year filmmakers are putting a personal focus on issues relating to the world we live in rather than addressing them on a macro-political level," Redford said.