Film Festival Infiltrated by Bootleggers

Dennis Faas's picture

Love 'indie' films but don't want to pay for them? Well, copyright infringers should rejoice over reports that the Sundance Film Festival has been infiltrated by bootleg filmmakers who have in recent days unleashed a torrent of underground copies of the event's biggest flicks.

The Sundance Film Festival takes place every year in the great state of Utah. Held in January in cities throughout the state, it is the premier event in unveiling some of the finest new movies from both American and international filmmakers. In other words, it's a big deal. (Source:

Perhaps the most anticipated movie this year is"Paper Heart", starring "Juno" and former "Arrested Development" star Michael Cera. Cera has been on a tear since movies like "Juno", "Superbad" and "Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist" shot to the top of box office sales. The young star is one of those rare talents beloved by both the average movie fan and critics.

Thus, it's little surprise that "Paper Heart" is the most widely distributed bootleg Sundance film so far. According to reports out of Hollywood, copies of the movie are easy to acquire within and without the movie industry. Cera's fans have been able to purchase his flick a month before its release.

John Sloss, head of Cinetic Media, believes the bootlegs could have a devastating effect on independent movies like "Heart". "There are films where it could virtually kill the market for a movie," he quipped. "From our perspective, this is war, and you're at your peril if you don't treat it that way." (Source:

So, how do these movies make it public?

No one really knows how "Heart" became so widely available. Most speculate that staffers low on the totem pole are the ones responsible, while others suspect assistants close to power -- for instance, the assistant to a major producer, publicist or even a director.

Director Jonas Pate, whose film "Shrink" will make its 'debut' at Sundance, isn't sure how anyone would have gotten hold of a copy of his film or why they'd want it. "Shrink", like some other films, is still in its final postproduction stage. "I don't know how someone would see my movie," said Pate. "I've barely seen my movie."

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