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The Sundance Channel has been a portal for some of the world's best independent films and has its origins from the Sundance film festival initiated by actor Robert Redford. The purpose of the festival, which continues to this day, is to provide a forum for independent film makers to show their films, which may not ordinarily be shown through the normal hollywood film making system.

The Sundance Channel is an extension of this creation and many of the films that saw their premiere at the festival also now make up part of the broadcast programming.

The qualities of an independent film are really based on the creative level of the filmmaker. Many films produced by the mainstream hollywood film industry, while very successful financially, are built on a formula which minimizes risk so the film has a chance to gain a profit. The special beauty about independent films is that these films are made without many of the management oversight restriction tied to the commercial value of the film's success and instead, are made for the pure artist form of the film.

The Sundance Channel permits film makers to take risks and the channel presents a unique quality of films that movie goers appreciate for the freshness and the ability to see the film maker's vision. Many of the channel's programming include foreign films which are never broadcast over mainstream cable channels. This also provides a different exposure to film makers from other parts of the world and how they apply their art form.