By Bailey Pennick
We’re back in the Sundance Fest groove! After two years of groundbreaking digital Festivals, it felt great (and quite cold!) to be back in Utah to kickoff our first hybrid Sundance Film Festival. From live musical performances by film casts and Mariachi bands to thought-provoking discussions about how to keep pushing the film industry forward, we’ll be thinking about this Fest’s magical moments and new friendships for years to come.
Over the last 11 days — in person and online — we watched 111 Feature films, 64 short films, and 4 Indie Episodic projects. We also went deep on how to deal with burnout as an artist, met the freshest faces in film, tackled the rising wave of antisemitism, and more.
Below you’ll find our complete coverage of the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Read about premieres that inspired us, events that challenged us, and the films that are going to keep us going all year long.
Boy did we start the 2023 Festival off with a bang! Starting from the morning’s Sundance Scoop, where we announced a surprise final film addition, we knew this was going to be a special year. Opening Night: A Taste of Sundance brought together influential alumni and friends to celebrate a return to Park City, Utah, as well as our special award winners including Ryan Coogler, Luca Guadagnino, W. Kamau Bell, and Nikyatu Jusu. On top of that, Indigo Girls brought the house down at the bash, having just premiered their new documentary mere hours ago.
With a high of 21 degrees fahrenheit, Park City was crisp for our first full day of film premieres and events. Even beyond seeing the next best thing that independent storytelling has to offer, we were excited to gather in theaters again for warmth! When we weren’t grabbing seats for once-in-a-lifetime premieres, we were getting advice from first-time filmmakers, discussing how filmmakers can push forward social justice issues through their works with the ACLU, and sitting down for The Big Conversation: Complicating Representation.
- “Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields” Introduces the Complex Icon to a New Generation and Puts a Mirror Up to America
With two days under our belt, we knew we needed some serious sustenance and ran over to the Directors Brunch where Joana Vicente and Kim Yutani spoke to the power of this cohort. Then, to keep on our inspiration high, we stopped by the Women at Sundance celebration to hear Sundance Fest alum Dakota Johnson talk about her experience in the industry, learned how to deal with burnout, and discussed the importance of intentional representation in filmmaking.
On our first Sundance Sunday we dove into tough but necessary conversations about combating antisemitism through authentic Jewish storytelling, protecting and progressing reproductive rights in this day and age, and how to best portray intimacy on screen. We also connected with the Asian Society Northern California about multi-generational families and the tragedy that had just occurred in Monterey Park, California. Sometimes coming together is one of the best ways to start the healing process.
After an extra-cold weekend full of snow, the skies parted for some sunshine, film premieres, and more! We caught up with the fresh faces of Sundance at Cinema Café, pondered the future of positive sci-fi storytelling, and went deep into the impact of telling trans stories at the GLAAD panel. Then we jumped right back into all the amazing stories being told across the mountain and in Salt Lake City.
The online portion of the 2023 Festival kicked off today, expanding the power of independent cinema to everyone across the country! We took advantage of this to see some more great films we missed, while also bingeing the excellent Indie Episodics offerings.
There was no hump to get over on this Wednesday! We continued our movie marathon with our community on and off the mountain, starting to look toward the awards-winner weekend!
With events cooling down for the week, we stayed warm and inspired by the New Frontier films presented at the Festival this year. We also did some cinematic traveling to an alien-filled future, the depths of the ocean, and more.
The final 2023 Festival weekend brings a lot more movie marathon time and the unveiling of the Fest’s award winners! We announced the full group on our socials, but below you can find the full list of the honored films and the kind words the jury said about each of them.
We continued our Festival coverage of the New Frontier projects and started to get lost in the amazing short film programs that highlight the brightest stars of the future. We also caught up with the Institute’s Press Inclusion Initiative Cohort, and rounded up our last Midnight flick!
It’s hard to believe that the 2023 Sundance Film Festival is already coming to a close! We could not be prouder of all the projects that premiered and the artists who have put their faith in us. Thank you for joining along with us!
- 2023 Sundance Film Festival Shorts Program 1 Explores Reproductive Rights, Reclamation, and Redemption