The Sundance Institute announced yesterday that for this coming year’s festival, they’ll be taking eight features and their filmmakers out to theaters across the country on January 28th — before the awards are even given out.

Eight cities will be included in Sundance Film Festival USA:

Ann Arbor, MI — Michigan Theater
Brookline, MA — Coolidge Corner Theatre
Brooklyn, NY — BAM
Chicago, IL — Music Box Theatre Los Angeles, CA — Downtown Independent
Madison, WI — Sundance Cinemas Madison
Nashville, TN — The Belcourt Theatre
San Francisco, CA — Sundance Kabuki Cinemas

This is an idea I’ve been talking up for years — the chance to participate in Sundance without trudging up to Park City.

As a filmmaker (and fan of indies) it’s frustrating to notice that audiences will line up for two hours in the Utah snow to see a movie that, six months later, they won’t drive to the nearby theater to see. The difference, of course, is that audiences want to be the first to see something. They want to participate in the discovery and discussion. This roadshow provides a chance.

If I have any quibble, it’s that the Arclight in Hollywood would be ideal. If this first round is a success, maybe we can hope for additional venues.