If you've always wanted to attend the Sundance Film Festival but the double-whammy of economic doldrums and travel fears have rendered a trip to Park City, Utah, impossible this year, don't despair. The independent film gathering is in the midst of its second annual online film festival, which gives the deskbound a chance to have a digital festival experience.
Until the real festival closes Jan. 20, you can check out nearly two dozen short-subject films, provided you've got a fast-enough connection to make it worth your while. Visitors to the online fest site (http://www.sundanceonlinefilmfestival.org) can rate the films they watch. That viewer feedback will determine the winner of the online festival viewers' award, to be announced during one of the legendary festival parties.
Be forewarned: The online version of Sundance isn't without the same problems plaguing other multimedia Web sites. A recent visit couldn't be enjoyed without downloading an updated version of Microsoft's Windows Media Player and Shockwave's flash plug-in. Once all the tools were
in place, several films--accessed via a high-speed LAN connection--still were interrupted frequently for the dreaded buffering process.
Two films stand out from the abridged high-speed visit. The 3-D animated Gone Bad--Episode 2 is about a lone fisherman who unwittingly catches a zombie in search of company. In the live-action category, those who follow the dot-com collapse will appreciate Behind The Startup: Ice Van.com.