By EW Staff
Updated January 22, 2009 at 12:00 PM EST

The Slamdance Film Festival, Park City’s other big January gathering, has been grabbing the attention of pretentious film critics and trendsetters for years, with programs featuring then-rising talents like Christopher Nolan and Jared Hess. Now it’s set to attract another crowd: Internet denizens from around the world. This year, Slamdance has offered its participating filmmakers the option to stream their work online at the same time that the movies premiere in Utah. The new distribution method — a partnership with — costs a viewer $9 per film or block of shorts, and it allows people outside of Park City to enjoy Slamdance films without having to freeze in line for tickets. At the same time, filmmakers can get some money for their work.

“Our philosophy is basically to give independent filmmakers the

opportunity to exhibit their films to a wider audience via the use of

the Internet,” says Vince Di Pierro, creative director of “And, it pays not to show it on YouTube, but to do a

revenue-building model to make some money back and make more movies. A

lot of people will make a short and they can never really sell it. They

can put it up on YouTube and get 400,000 hits and make no money, and it

sucks because it costs money to make.”

The new online model makes movies available for home viewing on IndieRoad’s Slamdance site two hours after they premiere in Park City, so that the festival can host their

exclusive debuts. While not all of the filmmakers who have movies at this year’s Slamdance are participating in the online venture, many have chosen to take advantage of the medium. This year’s buzzed-about “Punching the Clown,” directed by Gregori Viens, and “Only,” from Ingrid Veninger and Simon Reynolds, are both available for viewing online — as are several notable Slamdance movies of the past, such as

“Tijuana Makes Me Happy” (the winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best

Narrative Feature in 2007) and “Phone Sex Grandma” (which was first

shown at Slamdance in 2006).

“I believe in the long run that others will realize that the audience is so important to actually deciding, in the end, whether to go on and find a bigger audience after that,” says Peter Baxter, president and cofounder of Slamdance. “People always appreciate coming to watch our films. What we want to do here is create a wider audience for our films to watch the joys of the film wherever they are.”