The first to see films: film festival gatekeepers

It sounded like a dream job: plop down on a couch, throw some popcorn in the microwave and spend your days watching movies.

That's what Christine Davila thought, anyway. The 32-year-old Los Angeles resident had spent years toiling as an assistant to a number of Hollywood producers before she finally got a shot at her ideal gig — working as a programming associate for the Sundance Film Festival, the annual independent movie mega-event that kicked off in Park City, Utah, this week.

Davila landed the job in 2008, and every year since, she's been paid to screen hundreds of hours of film for the festival's international section. From June to November, she has to meet a quota: watch 200 films. After viewing each, she fills out an elaborate "coverage" form — writing a synopsis of the plot, sharing her opinion on the film's production quality or storytelling, noting if any famous actors or directors are involved and ranking it overall from 1 to 5, with 5 being the best. Her comments are used to help determine which movies make it into the prestigious festival.


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