A freaky festival

Independent films are slowly disappearing from our world at rapid speeds. Many of the studios that release autonomous films cannot afford to stay open long enough to make a name for themselves, often because of the subject nature of their films or simply because they don’t get any mainstream promotion and rely solely on word of mouth and their fans.

However, one of these studios is breaking out of that mold. Troma is a film studio that has been producing and distributing independent films for more than 35 years. Not only have they made these kinds of films popular, but have also done extremely important things for independent art as a whole. A little gem called The Toxic Avenger in 1984 skyrocketed Troma to the top of the independent world, even receiving some mainstream attention.

Troma President Lloyd Kaufman has been working in independent films for the last 35 years as a director, actor, writer and producer. Even after being internationally blacklisted due to the nature of the films, Kaufman still reaches out to filmmakers and actors to help get their movies noticed and distributed. That is where the TromaDance Film Festival comes in.

TromaDance is the first film festival devoted solely to the makers of the films and the fans of those movies. Unlike the other film festivals, there is no fee to submit the films, enter the festival, or to get in to the screenings. There are also no VIP reservations or special treatment for anyone. There are no special parties of any type. All of the work done to organize the festival, workers, and the venues that screen the films is strictly voluntary.

“I got the idea for this when Trey Parker, one of the creators of South Park, wanted to get his film Cannibal! The Musical seen at the Sundance Film Festival. They realized there was a huge fee to submit the film, but then shelled out the money. Afterward their film was panned before
viewing,” said Kaufman. “I then got the idea to start a film festival where there was no charge, no panels, no VIP, and no special treatment, so that everyone could get their art out there.”

TromaDance is held every year on the same weekend as the Sundance Film Festival in Salt Lake City and Park City, Utah at venues like Brewvies Cinema Pub, Salt Lake City Library, and The Sidecar.

The feature films at TromaDance are all films that are made independently, usually without big budgets or stars. They are not affiliated with the Hollywood studio system.

TromaDance is an opportunity for anyone who’s ever picked up a camera to have their work seen without the “compromises required by the elitist cartel interference.” This is truly the first and only festival of the people, for the people, and by the people.

Lloyd and the numerous volunteers that organize the festival feel that films are meant to be seen, especially when it comes to new filmmakers. Art is for the people, no matter which form it’s in.

Troma also distributes a DVD compilation of some of the selections and winners of the festival. Their most recent is “TromaDance Vol.5.”