2020 Sundance Film Festival
Courtesy of Sundance Institute

We are excited to share that next Wednesday, we will be heading to Park City, Utah to kick off the opening weekend of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. The Festival runs January 23 through February 2. Sundance has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Eighth Grade, Get Out, Little Miss Sunshine, Napoleon Dynamite, and much more.

The Festival may be primarily known for screenings from newly released films to world premiere events. However, the Sundance Institute also curates dozens of offscreen events, including behind-the-scenes panels on the art of filmmaking, musical performances and – around the theme of Imagined Futures – a public Bonfire and several extended post-screening conversations (IF screenings).

This year in addition to a slate of incredible performances, there is a real focus on civic engagement, data justice, disability as a creative force, and the role of art as an indispensable tool in the fight for truth-telling and justice-making. All of which ties perfectly into our theme of Imagined Futures,” said John Nein, Sundance Film Festival Senior Programmer.

Since the Festival has a lot going for it, we wanted to highlight some of the screenings, panel discussions and live music events worth noticing. Check out the full schedule at www.sundance.org/program.

2020 Sundance Film Festival
Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Film Screenings

The Glorias, Premieres

Journalist, fighter, and feminist Gloria Steinem is an indelible icon known for her world-shaping activism, her guidance of the revolutionary women’s movement, and her writing that has impacted generations. In this nontraditional biopic, against the backdrop of a lonely bus on an open highway, five Glorias trace Steinem’s influential journey to prominence — from her time in India as a young woman, to the founding of Ms. magazine in New York, to her role in the rise of the women’s rights movement in the 1960s and beyond.

Palm Springs, U.S. Dramatic Competition

Stuck in Palm Springs for her younger sister Tala’s destination wedding, family black sheep and reluctant maid of honor Sarah meets carefree Nyles, the date of a vapid bridesmaid. After Nyles bails Sarah out of giving a wedding toast, she quickly realizes that he is actually not a sentimental fool at all and feels drawn to his offbeat nihilism. After their impromptu tryst is thwarted by a surreal, unexpected interruption, Sarah joins Nyles in embracing the idea that nothing really matters, and they begin wreaking spirited havoc on the wedding celebration.

Spaceship Earth, U.S. Documentary Competition

In 1991, eight capable men and women were sealed into Biosphere 2, an airtight terrarium in the Arizona desert containing a miniature replica of Earth’s environment. Funded by a Texas oil tycoon hoping to acquire licensable technologies for space colonization, the mission of Biosphere 2 was to maintain an isolated, sustainable environment for two years. It was a mission that became a dystopian simulation of ecological crisis, after which a corporate consultant took over the venture — and disappeared the data.

Cuties, World Cinema Dramatic Competition

Eleven-year-old Amy lives with her mom, Mariam, and younger brother, awaiting her father to rejoin the family from Senegal. Amy is fascinated by disobedient neighbor Angelica’s free-spirited dance clique, a group that stands in sharp contrast to stoic Mariam’s deeply held traditional values. Undeterred by the girls’ initial brutal dismissal and eager to escape her family’s simmering dysfunction, Amy, through an ignited awareness of her burgeoning femininity, propels the group to enthusiastically embrace an increasingly sensual dance routine, sparking the girls’ hope to twerk their way to stardom at a local dance contest.

The Social Dilemma, Documentary Premieres

Technology wizards have masterminded a new form of capitalism, and humanity is now the raw resource feeding the machine. Powerful, hidden artificial intelligence tasked with hijacking our attention is tearing apart social norms, jeopardizing truth and democracy, and putting civilization on a programmed path toward self-destruction.

The Night House, Midnight

Reeling from the unexpected death of her husband, Beth (Rebecca Hall) is left alone in the lakeside home he built for her. She tries as best she can to keep together—but then the dreams come. Disturbing visions of a presence in the house call to her, beckoning with a ghostly allure. But the harsh light of day washes away any proof of a haunting. Against the advice of her friends, she begins digging into his belongings, yearning for answers. What she finds are secrets both strange and terrible and a mystery she’s determined to resolve.

Spree, NEXT

Meet Kurt, from @KurtsWorld96. He dreams of one day sitting atop a social media empire, but he’s not there yet. He currently drives for the rideshare company Spree, which is cool for him because he gets to hang with so many dope people all day long. Fortunately, Kurt has come up with the perfect way to go viral: #TheLesson. He’s decked out his car with cameras for a nonstop livestream full of killer entertainment. In the middle of all this madness, a stand-up comedian with her own viral agenda, Jessie Adams, crosses Kurt’s path and becomes our only hope to put a stop to his misguided carnage.

The Climb, Spotlight

Kyle is getting married. In France. To a French girl. He and his best friend (and best man), Mike, embark on a bike ride, traversing a twisting road in the South of France. Physically unable to keep the ascending pace, Kyle is a sweaty mess. More experienced cyclist Mike encourages his pal until, out of nowhere, he reveals that he slept with Kyle’s fiancée.

Come Away, Kids

Before Peter became Pan and Alice visited Wonderland, they were siblings living in an idyllic country home with their parents and their older brother, David. In this magical place, they are free to play and let their imaginations run wild as they romp around the nearby forest. However, change is in the air as their priggish aunt, Eleanor, who is extremely critical of how the children are being raised, has arranged for David to attend a prestigious boarding school.

2020 Sundance Film Festival
Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Imagined Futures (IF) Screenings

Friday, January 24

Crip Camp

6 p.m., Grand Theatre, Salt Lake City
With film team and special guest Shandra Benito, Executive Director, Art Access, Salt Lake City.

Sunday, January 26

The Assistant

8:15 p.m., The MARC Theatre, Park City
With film team and special guest Ai-jen Poo, co-founder and Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Moderated by Shirley Li, The Atlantic.

2020 Sundance Film Festival
Courtesy of Sundance Institute


Friday, January 24

Mexico’s New New Wave

2-3:30 p.m., Filmmakers Lodge
Join Los Angeles Times critic Carlos Aguilar, filmmakers Rodrigo Ruiz Patterson (Summer White [Blanco de Verano]), Fernanda Valadez (Identifying Features [Sin Señas Particulares]), Elena Fortes (Vivos), and Edher Campos (I Carry You With Me) from this year’s program to explore where this energy is coming from, how it is expressing itself through form and subject matter, and how it speaks to a wider contemporary Latin American cinema.

Saturday, January 25

Power of Story: Just Art

2:30 p.m., Egyptian Theatre
Art is uniquely capable of creating public “encounters” that are transformative and that activate our imagination and empathy in order to engage with issues of social justice. We explore the practice of artists who use art to push boundaries, provoke, inspire, disorient orthodoxy, and reshape culture. In asking what the artistic project of justice is, we have only to look at revolutionary narratives and radical forms of expression.

Monday, January 27

Where the Truth Lies

2-3:30 p.m., Filmmaker Lodge
According to Picasso, “Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.” Join Bill Ross and Turner Ross (Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets), Kirsten Johnson (Dick Johnson Is Dead), to explore the very different ways in which they have deployed cinematic artifice and formal experimentation to reveal deep human truths. They will be in conversation with Vox film critic Alissa Wilkinson.

Tuesday, January 28

The Movie That Blew My Mind

6:30-8 p.m., The Ray Theatre
Everybody has one — at least one. It’s that film that completely changed how you thought about movies, changed the course of your life, gave you a sense of the power of cinema, made you say, “I want to do that.” An Offscreen event and a kickoff for Sundance Institute Talent Forum, this panel features hosts John Cooper (Director, Sundance Film Festival), Tabitha Jackson (Director, Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program), Tom McCarthy, Tessa Thompson, and other special guests, each of whom has selected a cinema moment that was inspiring or formative (in their life or in shaping their creative sensibility). Supported by Hulu

Wednesday, January 29

How Can Artists Reshape Politics?

2-3:30 p.m., Filmmaker Lodge
What would it look like if artists were at the forefront of our political and civic lives? In this U.S. election year, For Freedoms — a nation-wide network of artists and institutions inspired by the history of creative people convening to shape society — is designing a set of guiding principles and a new “artists’ platform” for political engagement. To help design an artist-powered future, join Hank Willis Thomas, Eric Gottesman and Michelle Woo of For Freedoms, artists Kahlil Joseph (BLKNWS), Elissa Blount Moorhead, and Amelia Winger-Bearskin, and the Guild of Future Architects Writers Room.

Thursday, January 30

The Imagined Futures Bonfire

4:30 p.m.–sunset, Flagpole Parking Lot
Come be a part of a ritual as old as storytelling itself as our Festival and Park City communities gather around a sunset bonfire to welcome the start of a new decade and dream of our imagined futures. With remarks by Festival director John Cooper.

Friday, January 31

From Sleep

8 p.m., The Shop
Lift yourself out of the Festival’s frenetic pace for a spellbinding evening as Max Richter performs a 90-minute concert version of his eight-hour opus, Sleep, with a string quintet from New York’s American Contemporary Music Ensemble and soprano Grace Davidson. The concert will be followed by a Q&A with Richter, his creative partner and producer of Sleep Yulia Mahr, and filmmaker Natalie Johns (Max Richter’s Sleep).

Sunday, February 2

Film Church

10:30 a.m.–noon, Filmmaker Lodge
What could be more divine than 10 days of film watching? Finish off your Sundance Film Festival experience by sharing a near-spiritual moment with Festival director John Cooper and director of programming Kim Yutani, who will offer nondenominational talks of the Festival that was. Come confess your likes and dislikes. Joining us for the sermon will be a variety of special guests, including a few filmmakers who took home awards the night before (if they can be found the morning after!). All will be forgiven.

2020 Sundance Film Festival
Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Cinema Cafe

Other noteworthy conversations at the Festival include the Cinema Cafe daily series of informal chats, which this year will include conversations between Hillary Rodham Clinton, Zazie Beetz, St. Vincent, and Ron Howard, among others. Cinema Cafe events are presented in collaboration with Variety.

Friday, January 24

Ron Howard (Rebuilding Paradise)

11:30 a.m-12:30 p.m., Filmmaker Lodge

Saturday, January 25

Carrie Brownstein & St Vincent (The Nowhere Inn)

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Filmmaker Lodge

Sunday, January 26

Hillary Rodham Clinton & Nanette Burstein (Hillary)

11:30 a.m-12:30 p.m., Filmmaker Lodge

Tuesday, January 28

Zazie Beetz (Nine Days), Elle Lorraine (Bad Hair) & Taylour Paige (Zola)

noon-1 p.m., Filmmaker Lodge

Wednesday, January 29

Radha Blank (The 40 Year Old Version) & Winston Duke (Nine Days)

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Filmmaker Lodge

2020 Sundance Film Festival
Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Live Music

Friday, January 24 – 31

Sundance ASCAP Music Cafe

2-6 p.m. (doors open 1:30 p.m.), ASCAP Music Cafe
Stop by and we guarantee you will hear something great — whether you’re looking for the right musical collaborator for your next project or just coming in to take a break from your screening schedule — courtesy of your friends at ASCAP, home to more than 735,000 of the world’s greatest music creators.

Saturday, January 25

Celebration of Music in Film, Presented by Southwest Airlines

7-10 p.m., The Shop
Sundance Film Festival’s annual Celebration of Music in Film concert continues in its tradition honoring the power of storytelling through music and film. Hosted by Sundance Institute’s Film Music Program, the evening spotlights a headlining performance by the award-winning recording artist Rufus Wainwright, whose 9th studio album releases this spring.

Tuesday, January 28

BMI Snowball

8–10 p.m. (doors open at 7:30 p.m.), The Shop
BMI invites you to the 18th annual Snowball Music Showcase. This event is an intimate night of music featuring a phenomenal mixture of emerging and iconic artists. This year’s concert features an inspiring all-female roster of highly talented musicians, headlined by acclaimed GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb.

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