Founded in 1978, the Sundance Film Festival returns this week to celebrate independent filmmaking at its best.  Over the past 35 years, the festival has seen many filmmakers receive their big break, including, Quentin TarantinoKevin SmithSteven Soderbergh and Robert Rodriguez.  Many of the selected films go on to have successful box office runs and compete with much larger studio films during awards season.  This year's Oscars will have thirteen Sundance supported films and alumni, including Beasts of the Southern Wild, up for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Time Entertainment listed their top 10 Sundance hits and three of the aforementioned Miramax filmmaker's films are listed -  Clerks, Sex, Lies and Videotape, and Reservoir Dogs.  These films launched Soderbergh, Tarantino and Smith's careers - all whom continue to make top-grossing, critically acclaimed films today.  Watch the following clip of Sundance revisiting Soderbergh's Sex, Lies and Videotape that includes insights on how the festival changed his life.

Sundance most definitely can change a young filmmaker's life, as it just did for Beasts director, Ben Zeitlin.  It can also reinvigorate a veteran filmmaker's career, as it did for the director of The Sessions, Ben Lewin.   With Miramax's long history at the festival, we've decided to invite the Sundance 2013 participants to write a guest blog and talk about their filmmaking influences that inspired them to create the work they are showcasing this year.  These are the current filmmakers to watch, so for the next two weeks, we're happy to involve them in our Sundance Filmmaker Series so you can know a bit more about them and their films.

The Sundance Film Festival kicks off this Thursday and runs through January 27th.  Find more information on the festival here and follow our blog during the festival, as we introduce the current filmmakers.

Next up:  Meet Sundance 2013 filmmaker, Chad Hartigan and his film This is Martin Bonner.