How to Couch-Surf Sundance

Kevork Djansezian / AP

Christian Slater poses with a fan for a picture along Main Street during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2007.

Every January, film buffs descend on Park City, Utah, for the Sundance Film Festival, braving subzero temperatures for a sneak peak at indie movies that very likely will never be shown in a theater near you.

It's a paradox that filmmakers, critics and festival organizers are well aware of. The buzz is big "on the mountain," as they call it, but in recent years many of the festival's top-prize winners — movies like We Live in Public, Padre Nuestro and Trouble the Water — have gone on to fade quietly in a handful of theaters.

So Sundance is trying to position...

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