Originally the Utah Film Festival, it was first held in Salt Lake City, in 1978 by the Utah Film Commission, as a way to lure tourists to the state.

Moved to Park City in 1981, Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute (established in 1981 to help young filmmakers and explore all aspects of the movie industry) took over in 1985. In 1991 it was officially renamed the Sundance Film Festival. First premiered at Sundance, Steven Soderbergh’s film “Sex, Lies and Videotape” made a name for the festival after it went on to become a box office hit. Taking place every January for eleven days, Sundance has remained one of the top film festivals in the world.

Now prone to bashing from some members of the independent film community, alternatives to Sundance, such as Slamdance and Lapdance (the latter has been loudly championed by South Park creator's Trey Parker and Matt Stone) offer up more risqué and, according to its participants, “edgy” films.