Minneapolis submits bid to host Sundance Film Festival

As the Sundance Film Festival looks for a new home, Minneapolis has submitted a bid to host the filmmaker showcase.

The Sundance Institute announced in April it was seeking bids as it looked to move from Park City, Utah, where the festival has been held every January since the early 80s.

Park City will host next year's festival along with the 2026 edition. The current bid process will be for 2027 and beyond – if the festival ultimately decides to move out of Utah.

Film news site Deadline reports Utah's host committee is making a pitch to move the festival from Park City to Salt Lake City. Deadline also reports that Boulder, Colorado, Sante Fe, New Mexico, Nashville, Tennesee, and three Georgia cities, including Atlanta, Athens, and Savannah, are also in the running to lure the film festival.

According to Deadline, Sundance has struggled with declining attendance and sponsors in recent years in Park City.

In a provided statement, Mayor Jacob Frey says Minneapolis' cultural scene would be a perfect fit for the festival.

"With our thriving arts and entertainment scene, diverse cultural heritage, and passionate film community, Minneapolis is the ideal backdrop for the Sundance Film Festival," said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. "There is no city that embraces the arts quite like we do – and Minneapolis already has a long history of supporting independent filmmakers and their art of storytelling. Sundance would be a welcome addition to our theater community, and we’re excited to throw our hat in the ring to host this world-renowned festival."

Minneapolis' bid is being backed by CEOs from Target, Best Buy, and U.S. Bancorp along with the McKnight Foundation and Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies.

"This community shares the Ethos and Values of the Festival and, across our Host Committee coalition, we'll be able to provide upwards of $2MM+ in annual support to sustain and grow the Festival in Minneapolis", added Film North Executive Director Andrew Peterson in a provided statement. "Everybody wants to be a part of this."

The Minneapolis Downtown Council, which represents downtown business owners, says the city needs to double down on tourism and hosting big events like Sundance to bring Minnesotans back downtown after the pandemic.

"So if we lean into that, it'll have a weird counter effect of maybe even drawing more people that would want to work and live downtown, just because then that's where the action is. That kind of momentum begets more momentum and people want to be around that excitement," said Mpls Downtown Council President and CEO Adam Duininck.

Christine Walker is a local filmmaker who is originally from Utah and has premiered half a dozen films at Sundance like Thin Ice, which was shot here in Minnesota.

She says hosting Sundance would not only raise Minnesota's profile as a possible film location, but also elevate every aspect of the local film community.

"We have an incredible arts community here, world class institutions, and the idea of Sundance being part of that and being embraced by the community is really exciting," said Walker.

Finalists are expected to be announced later this month by Sundance with the final decision being announced during the 2025 festival in January.

The Sundance Film Festival typically draws in some of the biggest stars and directors in the world of film. The 2023 festival brought in 86,824 attendees over a ten-day festival including 21,000 travelers. A study by the Sundance Institute estimated the festival was a $118.3 million boon for the Utah economy.