I've noticed that the big splashy film festivals, like Sundance or Cannes, always have an eclectic mix of members on their award juries. For example, the feature film jury at Cannes in 2006 included Samuel L. Jackson, Wong Kar-Wai and Helena Bonham Carter (wouldn't you love to see those three involved in a film together?). This year's Sundance juries, which have just been announced, are no exception. Jurors for the dramatic competition include actor/musician Mos Def, actress Sarah Polley (whose feature directorial debut Away from Her is the festival's Gala opener), director Catherine Hardwicke (The Nativity Story and Thirteen), editor Pamela Martin (Little Miss Sunshine and Slums of Beverly Hills) and Dawn Hudson, executive director of Film Independent/LAFF. I'm pleased to see the high percentage of women on this jury, too.

Other Sundance 2007 juries don't have quite so many high-profile names but are still interesting: the documentary jury consists mainly of doc filmmakers, many of whom have had movies premiere at Sundance themselves: Julia Reichart, Alan Berliner (Wide Awake), Lauren Greenfield (Thin), editor Lewis Erskine and playwright Carlos Sandoval. The jury for the Alfred E. Sloane prize for indie films related to science and technology contains professors and science consultants ... and director Darren Aronofsky (The Fountain). And the short film competition jury includes Jared Hess, who directed a past Sundance hit, Napoleon Dynamite. Hess based Napoleon Dynamite on a previous short film he made, but I've never thought of him as someone with a background in short filmmaking. Still, his name will help generate popular interest in the short-film category, which always seems to need more attention than it gets.