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Athens in the running to host Sundance Film Festival

The race to score the prestigious Sundance Film Festival is heating up, and Georgia might just be in the spotlight.

The state has thrown not one, but three cities into the ring.

Athens, Atlanta, and Savannah are now standing tall among the 15 cities vying to become the festival's new home base. The trio made the cut from an initial list of 90 contenders, a nod to Georgia's burgeoning film industry and cultural appeal.

During the announcement, made at an industry luncheon titled "Shaping Georgia’s Entertainment Tourism Future," media exec and Sundance board member Pat Mitchell dished out the details.

"Regardless of what happens, this is something that should make Georgians proud," she remarked, obviously pleased with the state's impressive showing on the shortlist.

With over four decades of history in Park City, Utah, Sundance is synonymous with indie film glory, showcasing classics like "Precious" and "Sex, Lies, and Videotape" - and a relocation could shake things up.

Atlanta, which is already a heavyweight in the production arena with powerhouses like Tyler Perry Studios, is touted as an ideal spot for Sundance's new chapter.

Chris Escobar, head honcho at the Atlanta Film Society, didn't mince words when he told WABE in April, "Atlanta is the perfect place. This is one of the top production hubs in the world, and even before that, it’s already a creative place as we see through our vibrant arts and culture community." But let's not forget about Savannah, which has its own screen cred with titles like "Lady and the Tramp," or Athens, that albeit has seen fewer lights, camera, and action.

The prospect of hosting Sundance is more than just a feather in the cap; it's a potential economic bonanza for the chosen city. January's festival attracted over 100,000 attendees - that's a lot of hotel bookings and peach cobblers. With a long-term contract up for grabs, the stakes are high. The all cities have until June 21 to strut their stuff and submit their proposals. As for when we'll hear who gets to roll out the red carpet? Deadline reports a decision is expected to drop somewhere between late 2024 and early 2025.

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