Sundance Next Fest to Move from Sunset Boulevard to Downtown LA

The United Artists Theatre lobby at the Ace Hotel.
The United Artists Theatre lobby at the Ace Hotel.

Sundance Institute will move its Next Fest film festival, which debuted last year on Sunset Boulevard, to downtown Los Angeles in August.

The festival was headquartered last August at the Sundance Sunset Cinema at 8000 Sunset Blvd., just outside the West Hollywood city limits. It featured 10 feature films, 10 short films and other programming. In addition to the Sundance Sunset Cinemas, screenings were held at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and at venues such as the American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre, Cinefamily, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), and the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television at the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum.

Next Fest, known last year as Next Weekend, is a spinoff of the Sundance Film Festival, which got its start in 1978 as a festival for American independent films and is staged in January each year in Park City, Utah.

“In creating Next Weekend we were looking to shed our parkas and boldly celebrate this ‘other side’ of Hollywood — the far edge of independent filmmaking,” festival director John Cooper told Entertainment Weekly last year in explaining the Sunset Boulevard event.

This year’s Next Fest will be held Aug. 7-10 and headquartered at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel at 933 S. Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. Six independent films that were shown in January at Park City will be screened there, with several screenings paired with musical performances. The program features a zombie love story, an Iranian-set vampire movie, a modern tale of buried treasure, a thriller about a mysterious soldier, and films that explore the perils of artistic ambition among both gangs in Watts and the literary world of New York City. The festival will kickoff with a screening on Aug. 7 at Hollywood Forever Cemetery of “Napoleon Dynamite.”

Trevor Groth, director of programming for the Sundance Film Festival, cited the Theatre at the Ace as one of the attractions for Sunset in its move to downtown Los Angeles. It was built in 1927 for the United Artists film studio formed by Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. It was the first major movie theatre built in Los Angeles and occupies three floors with 1,600 seats.

“The Theatre at Ace Hotel, with its roots in cinematic trailblazing, will serve as the ideal hub for this cultural adventure,” Groth said.