The Sundance Film Festival isn’t just about movies

Jan 23, 2023, 2:00 PM | Updated: Jan 29, 2023, 7:46 am

2021 Sundance Film Festival...

FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, file photo, the Egyptian Theatre is lit up on Main Street during the first night of the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP, File)

(Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP, File)

PARK CITY, Utah — The big attractions for movie festival goers are usually the films and the chance to see celebrities ‘up close and personal’ at Q&A events after screenings — for a hefty price.  However, the Sundance Film Festival has many more events and most of them are free.  

Additionally, there are various ‘houses’ where people can mingle with diversity. Specifically, the LatinX House hosted a welcome brunch for visitors and held panel discussions with various musicians, actors and business people in the Latin community. 

Festival goers could also drop into the Sunrise Collective House, celebrating the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.  Speakers included Steven Yeun of “The Walking Dead” fame and  Daniel Dae Kim, from “Hawaii Five-O” and “Lost,” and founder of 3AD.

Erika L. Moritsugu, Deputy Assistant to the President Biden; Norman Chen, founder of TAAF; Bing Chen, CEO of Gold House; Daniel Dae Kim, actor and founder of 3AD.
(photo courtesy of Heather Kelly)

Other places to visit included the “Indie Director’s and Creator’s Spotlight” focusing on black storytellers, a panel on how Native representation in movies and television is reviving streaming channels, and a conversation on why Jewish people have been left out of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) conversations. 

Panels provide a free Sundance experience 

One of the more popular panels this year was one called “Audiences Want Climate Stories.”  Staff from the Redford Center, along with a couple of filmmakers and activists, discussed how climate change is making it’s way into movies, television shows and documentaries.

Jill Tidman, executive director of the Redford Center, said climate change stories aren’t always about looming global destruction. 

“Whether it’s a personal climate disaster [a flooded home] or a personal emotional, anxiety provoked experience of the climate, what we know as artists is that we need to be reflecting our reality.”

Tidman continued, “We know people are 20 times more likely to remember information that’s delivered through a story than a fact sheet.” 

This is why you may be seeing everything from your favorite characters having a quick conversation about climate change to entire storylines devoted to the subject in more and more movies and TV shows. 

The panel had seating available for 102 people. Over 300 people signed up for the free discussion on the first day. 

Tracy Rector -Managing Director at Nia Tero; Megha Agrawal Sood with Redford Society; Jeff Orlowski-Yang – founder of Exposure Labs; Anna Jane Joyner – founder of Good Energy; Jill Tidman – executive producer of Redford Center. (photo courtesy of Heather Kelly)

Finding authenticity at Sundance 

Even though these panels and houses are free to get in, it is first come, first served based on reservations. So preparing ahead of time is key to enjoying the ‘other side’ of the Sundance Film Festival.  

The overriding theme from everyone is that audiences show up for authentic stories about themselves.

Julie Ann Crommett, Founder and CEO of Collective Moxie, who spoke both at the Sunrise Collective and the LatinX House, said “When you see yourself portrayed on screen, people are more likely to believe it’s possible for me.”

Crommett recounted not thinking it was possible for her, a Latina, to be successful in the business world. It wasn’t until she saw the TV show “Ugly Betty,” with America Ferrera that she felt she had a future in Hollywood.

“It was the first time I ever saw a character I really identified with,” Crommett recalled. 

However, Crommett said it’s a myth to think that only Asians show up for Asian films. Or only black people showing up for black shows.  She said the authenticity of anyone’s life experience will bring an audience. 

“Production companies and streaming services will see more money when they start telling stories that are more specific and intentional,” said Crommett.

Rubbing elbows with celebrities and insiders

If listening to people talk isn’t your cup of tea, there are also some mix-and-mingle tents. 

Learning how to up your latte enjoyment through art was one such activity.  World-renowned artist Michael Breach gave people a lesson on how to dye milk foam and make pictures with it on top of their coffee.  The event was free at the Stanley Creator’s Lounge at The Cabin and people got to take home a coffee mug.  But again, attendees needed an advance reservation.  

Hand-drawn alpine landscape made with milk foam on coffee by artist Michael Breach at the Sundance Film Festival. (Photo courtesy of Heather Kelly)

Other mostly free activities at Sundance Film Festival include the Art House, Canada Goose, and the Acura Festival Village. Free hot cocoa and coffee are available, but cocktails are for purchase only.  Some of these required visitors to be pass holders, meaning they needed to purchase some type of ticket package to gain access. 

There are also more than fiction movies to see.  Documentaries and short films are available, both in person and online. Many are not sold out before the festival even starts. 

The festival runs until Jan. 29, 2023.

You can hear several one-on-one interviews with filmmakers at the Sundance Film Festival on the KSL Podcast Money Making Sense, including the director of “Deep Rising,” a documentary narrated by Jason Momoa.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Arts + Entertainment

Poinsettias are displayed during Christmas mass at The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels...

Derrick Jones

Poinsettias, the Christmas flower, have a long history

Poinsettias have become synonymous with Christmastime, but that's not all the beautiful red and green flowers are known for.

7 hours ago

FILE - Taylor Swift performs at the Monumental stadium during her Eras Tour concert in Buenos Aires...

Associated Press

Taylor Swift is named Time Magazine’s person of the year

Time Magazine has named Taylor Swift its person of the year. Swift was picked from a group of nine finalists that included Barbie, King Charles III, and OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman, among others.

2 days ago

bread-maker, Blake Jensen...

Eric Cabrera

Blake Jensen, creator of “Blake’s Bakes,” dreams of opening a bakery one day

What started as one day of bread-making has turned into a weekly occurrence for the popular bread-maker, Blake Jensen.

2 days ago

FILE: The Utah State Fairpark entrance in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 25, 2023....

KSL NewsRadio

LISTEN: New Kilby Block Party lineup announced

SALT LAKE CITY — The festival coordinator for the Kilby Block Party spoke with KSL today about the headliners, the lineup, and what’s new for 2024!   More reading: Imagine Dragons help pay off Utah music venue’s mortgage Queen’s music catalog could sell for over $1 billion, source says Music can heal the mind and […]

3 days ago

a caricature of steve salles is shown next to a godzilla minus one movie posted...

Steve Salles

KSL Movie Show Review: ‘Godzilla Minus One’ might be the best ‘Zilla movie

Say goodbye to the man in a rubber suit playing Godzilla. Godzilla Minus One gives us a terrifyingly improved version of this classic movie monster.

7 days ago

"Silent Night" is a movie about revenge, how it is best served cold, and how words sometimes just g...

Steve Salles

KSL Movie Show Review: “Silent Night” is exquisitely directed

"Silent Night" is directed by John Woo and stars Joel Kinnaman in an emotional action and revenge film of few words.

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

The Sundance Film Festival isn’t just about movies