Ben Affleck, Sally Field and David O. Russell reveal Sundance memories

Long before they were contenders for this season's Academy Awards, Argo's Ben Affleck, Lincoln's Sally Field and Silver Linings Playbook's David O. Russell bundled up and headed to Park City, Utah for the annual Sundance Film Festival, a 10-day celebration of independent cinema.

The 2013 version is kicks off this evening.

Affleck has frequented the fest since early in his career, working with director Kevin Smith, and more recently appeared for the world premiere of the drama Company Men in 2010.

So what does Sundance mean to Affleck?

"It means me and you doing interviews in the hot tub, just, you know, having that kind of time. We can talk about that now, right? No one cares anymore. The laws are different," he joked, smiling. "No! I love Sundance. It's actually a festival that's really, really important to American cinema."

Field said she spent 16 years on the board of trustees of the Sundance Institute, which not only hosts the annual festival, but provides support to indie filmmakers throughout the year. "It really finds and identifies young voices in film," she explained.

"Young ... They don't even have to be young. New voices. And (it) tries to help them strengthen those voices before the industry gets a hold of them.

“Because the industry will get a hold of them, and they'll either tell them to change their voice or they'll try to turn it into a voice that they'll more readily recognise. And it is their voice that we need to hear."

Russell noted he wouldn't have a film career without Sundance.

"Sundance gave me a destination when I was a bartender, when I had a day job," he recalled. "I would make my short films and that was my goal: to get them to Sundance.

“It gave me a destination, and I thank [Sundance founder] Robert Redford for that. I thank Sundance for that. It saved my life. I went there. I worked as a ticket taker. I'd bring my short films there. It changed my life."

Among those unveiling films at this year's festival are Naomi Watts, Nicole Kidman and Daniel Radcliffe. The Sundance Film Festival continues through until Sunday January 27.