That’s the argument being made by independent filmmaker Daryl Abbinante, who released a statement saying he is suing Sundance on allegations that the festival is accepting submissions from filmmakers with “no possibility of evaluating each film as contracted, due to the immense enormity of a task that is not humanely possible in the limited time frame prior to the festival.”
“In my opinion, the Sundance Film Festival has grown so large that it is now ‘out of control’ and cannot possibly evaluate every single pre-paid film submission it receives,” said Abbinante, who submitted his film “M.O.G. Redux” to the 2012 festival. It was not accepted. “Because Sundance had prior knowledge of the unmanageable volume of films received, and did not reject or return submission fees to consumers whose films were not evaluated, I believe Sundance is guilty of consumer fraud and theft.”
According to statements released by Sundance, the festival received 4,042 feature-length film submissions and 7,675 short film submissions for the 2012 festival. Abbinante estimates that would require over 10,500 hours of film watching, which he states could not have been done in the official submission period of Aug. 15 through Dec. 31. Because of this, Abbinante is seeking the return of his submission fee ($100, due to the fact that it was a late submission), and an undisclosed amount for “punitive damages” that are to be paid to the Los Angeles Mission.
But how do those hours actually break down? Estimates from the Sundance Film Festival’s Park City office state that there are 10 to 15 people evaluating the submitted films at any one time. Short films are required to be less than 50 minutes. So if programmers watched an average of 30 minutes of each of the 7,675 films and an average of an hour and a half of each of the 4,042 films, it would add up to 9,900.5 hours.
Given 100 days total to view the films (which would include some Saturdays), 10 people would need to watch an average of 9.9 hours a day each to watch all the films. However, the Sundance office said there were sometimes 15 programmers, and the festival has no requirement stating the minimum amount of film that needs to be watched before the programmers make a decision.
So we’re putting it to the readers. Is Sundance accepting more movies than they can properly evaluate? Let us know in the comments.