Offscreen at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival: Panels and Events

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Onstage: Jackie Chan, Lena Waithe, Jane Campion, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Boots Riley, Hannah Pearl Utt, Desiree Akhavan, Tommy Orange, Among Many Others

Los Angeles, CA — Sundance Institute will convene dozens of offscreen events, including inclusive and intersectional conversations on the next wave of storytelling, radical data transparency, the future of democracy at its intersection with the arts, behind-the-scenes panels on the art of filmmaking and musical performances that range from intimate to raucous at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival taking place in Park City, Salt Lake City, and Sundance, Utah, January 24 through February 3, 2019.

The first 2019 installment of the longstanding Power of Story series, Power of Story: Makers of the New Narrative Revolution will convene Terence Nance (As Told To G/D Thyself, Random Acts of Flyness), Reggie Watts (Runnin’), John Gaeta (Senior Vice President of Creative Strategy, Magic Leap), Stephanie Dinkins (Not The Only One), and Sarah Ellis (The Seven Ages of Man, director of digital development, Royal Shakespeare Company) and moderator Julia Kaganskiy to explore a range of inspirations, the changing nature of artistic discovery, the necessity of invention, and how culture stands to be dramatically reshaped by revolutionary, new narrative experiences. Power of Story is presented by Dropbox.

The conversation continues with Power of Story: Pushing Boundaries, which will gather filmmakers Rick Alverson (The Mountain), Mads Brügger (Cold Case Hammarskjöld), Kitty Green (Casting JonBenet), Penny Lane (Hail Satan?), and Asad J. Malik (A Jester’s Tale) and moderator John Horn (The Frame) for a conversation about how their work pushes boundaries conceptually, formally, and morally.

The Festival’s opening weekend offscreen programming brings democracy into focus: on Saturday, Sundance Institute and For Freedoms co-present a Town Hall on art and democracy, featuring artist-activist Patrisse Cullors, filmmaker Ava DuVernay, playwright Lisa Kron, photographer Susan Meiselas, choreographer Okwui Okpokwasili. On Sunday, veteran investigative journalist Lowell Bergman, political and cultural analyst Farai Chideya, Open Society Foundations President Patrick Gaspard, filmmaker Jehane Noujaim (The Great Hack), and writer Tim Wu explore the intersection of democracy and journalism.

Elsewhere in the program, filmmakers Garrett Bradley, Sky Hopinka, Amelia Winger-Bearskin and RaMell Ross join novelist Tommy Orange (There There) to discuss work made in the context of centuries of erasure and misrepresentation. Alma Ha’rel (Honey Boy) will convene with the legendary Benedetta Barzini (The Disappearance of My Mother) to talk ethical and aesthetic challenges of biography; Kyra Sedgwick and Sacha Jenkins are among the makers talking about creating indie episodic work.

Other noteworthy conversations at the Festival include the Cinema Café daily series of informal chats, which this year will include conversations between Jackie Chan,Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jane Campion, Boots Riley, Hannah Pearl Utt, Ashton Sanders, Desiree Akhavan, Tessa Thompson, among others. Several Cinema Café events are presented by The New York Times TimesTalks, noted below; more Cinema Café conversations will appear on sundance.org/program shortly.

The Celebration of Music in Film concert features iconic performances inspired by the Sundance Film Festival’s most powerful films. Past celebrations have honored legends such as Joan Jett, Common, Erykah Badu, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, Mos Def, Michel Gondry, Darlene Love, and more. This year—which marks the 20th anniversary of the concert series—we celebrate Blinded by the Light, a film that bridges different cultures and corners of the world through the music of Bruce Springsteen. Join us for an evening dedicated to the power of music and film with performances by Feist, The Head and the Heart, Patty Griffin, Rotana Tarabzouni, and composer Kris Bowers in a special duet with Frally Hynes. Celebration of Music in Film is programmed annually by the Sundance Institute Film Music Program.

Other live music at the Festival includes performances at the Sundance ASCAP Music Café (free and open to all Festival credential holders 21 and older) by Grammy winners Claudia Brant, Everlast, Flor de Toloache, Patty Griffin and Lee Ann Womack. The annual BMI Snowball (open to all Festival credential holders) will feature Neyla Pekarek (formerly of The Lumineers), Hailey Knox  and Tamar-kali. This year’s panelists for BMI’s composer/director roundtable “Music & Film: The Creative Process,” includes Sundance Institute Film Music Program Director Peter Golub; composer Mandy Hoffman and director Minhal Baig (Hala); composer Jon Ekstrand and director May el-Toukhy (Queen of Hearts); composer Blake Neely and director Ryan White (Ask Dr. Ruth); composer Heather McIntosh and director Martha Stephens (To the Stars); and composer Will Bates (The Inventor) and (The Sound of Silence).

For dates, times, locations and ticket information for these and other offscreen events, including panels and live music hosted by our sponsors, visit sundance.org/festival.

Day One Press Conference 
Thursday, January 24, 12 p.m. PT / 1 p.m. MT / 3 p.m. ET
Join Sundance Institute Founder and President Robert Redford, Executive Director Keri Putnam, Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper, Sundance Film Festival Director of Programming Kim Yutani and Festival Senior Programmers David Courier, Shari Frilot, Caroline Libresco and John Nein. Doors open to accredited press at 11 a.m. Watch the livestream beginning at 1 p.m. MT at sundance.org and youtube.com/sff.

POWER OF STORY
Power of Story looks to deepen public engagement with storytelling, explore cinema culture, and celebrate artists whose work propels the form. Presented by Dropbox.

Power of Story: Makers of the New Narrative Revolution
Saturday, January 26, 2:30 p.m.–4:00 p.m.
Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.
#PowerOfStory

Bolstered by the breathtaking palate of emerging media, visionary artists are deviating from norms and reinventing storytelling as we know it. Terence Nance (As Told To G/D Thyself, Random Acts of Flyness), Reggie Watts (Runnin’), John Gaeta (senior vice president of creative strategy, Magic Leap), Stephanie Dinkins (Not the Only One), and Sarah Ellis (The Seven Ages of Man; director of digital development, Royal Shakespeare Company) look at the tantalizing futurescape of story.

Power of Story: Pushing Boundaries
Thursday, January 31, 2:30 p.m.–4:00 p.m.
Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.
#PowerOfStory

Maintaining the freedom to shatter prevailing orthodoxies, reframe moral perspectives, and push the boundaries of accepted norms, artists don’t lead us to safety but away from it, out of our comfort zones. With Rick Alverson (The Mountain), Mads Brügger (Cold Case Hammarskjöld), Kitty Green (Casting JonBenet), Penny Lane (Hail Satan?), and Asad J. Malik (A Jester’s Tale).

CINEMA CAFÉ
Cinema Café revives the culture of conversation, offering audiences the opportunity to engage with an array of filmmakers and artists in an informal dialogue, complete with coffee and treats. Open to credential holders. Select Cinema Café conversations will be livestreamed.

Friday, January 25–Saturday, February 2, 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd floor)

#CinemaCafe

Jackie Chan 
TimesTalks moderated by Kyle Buchanan
Friday, January 25, 11:30 a.m-12:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St., second floor
#CinemaCafe
#TimesTalks

Ashton Sanders and KiKi Layne
TimesTalks Moderated by Kyle Buchanan
Saturday, January 26, 11:30 a.m-12:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St., second floor
#CinemaCafe
#TimesTalks

Chiwetel Ejiofor and Boots Riley
TimesTalks moderated by Kyle Buchanan
Sunday, January 27, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St., second floor
#CinemaCafe
#TimesTalks

Jenny Slate and Ed Helms
TimesTalks Moderated by Kyle Buchanan
Monday, January 28, 11:30 a.m-12:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St., second floor
#CinemaCafe
#TimesTalks

Jen Tullock & Hannah Pearl Utt and Jocelyn DeBoer & Dawn Luebbe
Thursday, January 31, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St., second floor
#CinemaCafe

Tessa Thompson and Jane Campion
Friday, February 1, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St., second floor
#CinemaCafe

Desiree Akhavan and Nisha Ganatra
Saturday, February 2, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St., second floor
#CinemaCafe

NEW FRONTIER PANELS
Explore the technology and innovation pushing the boundaries of storytelling. Open to the public.

AI: I Love You
#NewFrontier
Sunday, January 27, 11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
The Box at The Ray, 1768 Park Ave.
Artificial intelligence in our day-to-day lives is shifting. Once typified by science-fiction writers, practical AI is now ever present in the searches we perform and the products we consume. Now AI gets much more personal, processing our words, tone, expression, senses, and gestures. Join Eleanor Whitley (Sweet Dreams); Stephanie Dinkins (Not the Only One); John Monos (head of human-centered AI at Magic Leap); and Google Empathy Lab’s Danielle Krettek to explore how we might ensure that AI technologies lift us up and move us forward.

The Second Coming of AR
#NewFrontier
Monday, January 28, 11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
The Box at The Ray, 1768 Park Ave.
Enthusiasm for augmented reality and mixed reality has been at a fever pitch this year. ARKit and ARCore have caused an explosion of developer activity, and many believe that the potential reach of AR is an order of magnitude greater than VR. Join Peter Flaherty (THE DIAL); Ted Schilowitz (Paramount Pictures Futurist in Residence); Alice Wroe (Magic Leap’s Mica); and Artie’s founder and CEO, Ryan Horrigan, in a discussion about the present of AR and what important technologies are on the horizon that may trigger the next wave.

The Biodigital Continuum: Rebounding Digital Democracy
#NewFrontier
Tuesday, January 29, 11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
The Box at The Ray, 1768 Park Ave.
Plugged into our phones 24/7 is not a good look for any of us. But becoming technological teetotalers is not a practical option, as digital platforms continuously aid and abet our thoughts, needs, and even our identities. Join economist Douglas Rushkoff (Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, Team Human), filmmaker/author Tiffany Shlain (Connected; founder, the Webby Awards), and filmmaker Jehane Noujaim (The Great Hack, The Square) in a high-tech fireside chat as they explore the relationship between digital platforms, democracy, and what it means to be a member of the human species.

Artistic Practice on the Bleeding Edge of Tech
#NewFrontier
Thursday, January 31, 11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
The Box at The Ray, 1768 Park Ave.
Among the most exciting things about New Frontier artists are the formal innovations and groundbreaking technologies they create in pursuit of artistic expression. Join Nonny de la Peña (REACH), Victor Morales (Esperpento), and Melissa Painter (Embody) as they discuss their artistic process; the rewards, potential, and challenges of storytelling using bleeding-edge technologies; and what brings them to the necessity of invention.

FESTIVAL PANELS
Join artists, writers, thinkers, and movers and shakers to explore culture, society and what is preoccupying us  – as illuminated by this year’s Festival lineup. Open to Festival credential holders.

Making the (In)visible: Radical Transparency in the Data-Driven Age
Friday, January 25, 2:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd floor)
#SFFInclusionData
Join Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Stacy Smith (USC), actor and writer Lena Waithe, Nina Jacobson (Crazy Rich Asians), and Sundance Institute’s Karim Ahmad for a discussion of the latest research by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative—what it reveals about race and gender at the Sundance Institute and what it reveals about the field—and a discussion of the new models to advance equitable representation in film.

Can Art Save Democracy?
Saturday, January 26, 2:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd floor)
#SFFForFreedoms
In 2018, For Freedoms launched the 50 State Initiative to catalyze civic engagement and public discourse through the arts. In this town hall, join Eric Gottesman and Tanya Selvaratnam of For Freedoms, filmmaker Ava DuVernay, performer and choreographer Okwui Okpokwasili, Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas, artist/co-founder of Black Lives Matter Patrisse Cullors, and playwright and performer Lisa Kron (Fun Home) as they provide  some soul-searching provocations around art and democracy.

Democracy Hacked?
Sunday, January 27, 2:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd floor)
#SFFDemocracyHacked
Is it possible to foster and protect democracy against the unprecedented triple threat of rampant inequality, the corrosion of public discourse, and the polarizing forces of the internet? With reporter and political and cultural analyst Farai Chideya, veteran investigative reporter Lowell Bergman, director Jehane Noujaim (The Great Hack), author Tim Wu (The Attention Merchants), and Patrick Gaspard (president, Open Society Foundations).

Reseeing the Present, Rewriting the Past
Monday, January 28, 2:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd floor)
#SFFPastRewrite
For two particular U.S. populations, Native Americans and African Americans, the history of mainstream cinema has been one of erasure and misrepresentation. But cinema is being challenged through radically reimagined aesthetics and upended storyforms. With Tommy Orange (There There), RaMell Ross (Hale County This Morning, This Evening), Sky Hopinka (Fainting Spells), Garrett Bradley (America), Amelia Winger-Bearskin (artist/technologist), and Crystal Echo Hawk (Echo Hawk Consulting).

The New Storytellers
Tuesday, January 29, 2:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd floor)
#SFFNewStorytellers
With scientists and storytellers finding imaginative new ways to render science narratives in popular media, have we entered a great new era of public understanding of science? With Sev Ohanian (writer/producer of Searching), Heather Berlin (neuroscientist, professor, and host of Science Goes to the Movies), Kerry Bishe (Halt and Catch Fire), Paula Apsell (executive producer of NOVA), and Janna Levin (astrophysicist and writer). Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Adventures in Indie Episodic
Wednesday, January 30, 2:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd floor)
#SFFIndieEpisodic
As the episodic landscape continues to evolve, artists are pushing the boundaries of the form and creating groundbreaking work populated by unforgettable characters. Join Kyra Sedgwick (Girls Weekend), Deniese Davis (Issa Rae Productions), Sacha Jenkins (Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men), and Stephanie Laing (Bootstrapped) with moderator Michelle Satter (Sundance Institute) for a conversation about what it takes to reimagine the paradigm of episodic storytelling.

Imagining the Independent Internet
Thursday, January 31, 2:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd floor)
#SFFIndieInternet
What is the future of online community, and what can new technologies—and yes, the blockchain—offer artists seeking autonomy, privacy, ownership, and independence? Join Sundance Institute’s Tara Hein-Phillips; former head of YouTube’s top creator partnerships Benjamin Grubbs (CEO of Next 10 Ventures); artist/technologist Amelia Winger-Bearskin  and writer Logan Hill to find out.

Leaps of Faith
Friday, February 1, 2:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd floor)
#SFFLeapsOfFaith
From snake-wielding Appalachian Pentecostals to real-life revolutionary Satanists, this year’s Festival is filled with fiction and nonfiction films inhabiting religious worlds to tell the stories of our times. Join critic and journalist Alissa Wilkinson (Vox), directors Brittany Poulton and Dan Madison Savage (Them That Follow), director Paul Harrill (Light From Light), and Jex Blackmore (featured in the documentary Hail Satan?) to explore why so many artists are taking these narrative leaps of faith.

Life Stories
Saturday, February 2, 2:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd floor)
#SFFLifeStories
What are the challenges of creatively portraying the real lives of others in film. When are such biographical portraits acts of trespass, and when are they acts of transformative truth telling—and can they be both? Join Alma Har’el (Honey Boy), Benedetta Barzini (The Disappearance of My Mother), and others.

Film Church
Sunday, February 3, 10:30 a.m.–noon
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd floor)
#FilmChurch
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 with a variety of special guests.

MUSIC

Sundance ASCAP Music Café
Performances daily 2:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m. (Doors open 1:30 p.m.)
751 Main St.
Open to Festival credential holders 21 and older 
Whether it’s enhancing drama, building atmosphere, or underscoring an unforgettable moment, music is essential to the movies. The Sundance ASCAP Music Café honors the love affair between music and film with eight days of performances from artists and songwriters you already love and some you need to know. Stop by to discover some great tunes and find a collaborator for your next project. Courtesy of your friends at ASCAP, home to more than 690,000 of the world’s greatest creators and a proud partner of the Sundance Film Festival for 21 years. Featured performers this year include Stephen Bishop, Creamer, Dounia, Everlast, Flor De Toloache, Patty Griffin, Herizen, iDKHOW (I Dont Know How But They Found Me), Leland, Patrick Martin, Shim Moore, Milck, Judith Owen, Park88, J.P. Saxe, and Warbly Jets, plus a special ACM and Bluebird Cafe Songwriters Series performance lineup with Lee Ann Womack, Deana Carter, Carlton Anderson, and Jacob Davis. Artists will be featured January 25 through February 1 from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day. For the full lineup, check out ascap.com and the Festival mobile app.

Celebration of Music and Film 
Saturday, January 26, 7:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m. The Shop, 1167 Woodside Ave.
Open to Festival credential holders as space allows 
The Celebration of Music in Film concert—which marks the 20th anniversary of the concert series—celebrates Blinded by the Light, a film that bridges different cultures and corners of the world through the music of Bruce Springsteen. Join us for an evening dedicated to the power of music and film with performances by Feist, The Head and the Heart, Patty Griffin, Rotana Tarabzouni, Frally Hynes and composer Kris Bowers. Celebration of Music in Film is programmed annually by the Sundance Institute Film Music Program and has hosted iconic performances inspired by the Sundance Film Festival’s most powerful films with performances by  Lou Reed, Joan Jett, Patti Smith, Common, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Andra Day, Lyle Lovett, Chuck D, Aloe Blacc and more.

BMI Snowball
Tuesday, January 29, 8:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m. (Doors open 7:30 p.m.)
The Shop, 1167 Woodside Ave.
Open to Festival credential holders as space allows 
BMI invites you to the 17th annual Snowball Music Showcase. This showcase is an intimate night of music featuring a phenomenal mixture of emerging and iconic artists. Memorable past performances have included Rita Wilson, Christina Perri, Donovan, Rodriguez, Death Cab for Cutie, Devo, Allen Stone, KT Tunstall, Robert Randolph, Dawes, Terence Blanchard, Keb’ Mo’, Minnie Driver, and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees Percy Sledge and Spooner Oldham. Check sundance.org for this year’s lineup details.

For a full list of Partner Panels, featuring the latest and greatest from our partner community, please visit sundance.org/festival. Partner Panels are open to all Festival credential holders and the general public as space allows.

 

The Sundance Film Festival®
The Sundance Film Festival 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, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Precious, The Cove, Little Miss Sunshine, An Inconvenient Truth, Napoleon Dynamite, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Reservoir Dogs and sex, lies, and videotape. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®. 2019 Festival sponsors include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, SundanceTV, Chase Sapphire, YouTube; Leadership Sponsors – Adobe, Amazon Studios, AT&T, DIRECTV, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom, Stella Artois; Sustaining Sponsors – Ancestry, Canada Goose, Canon, Dell, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, GEICO, High West Distillery, IMDbPro, Lyft, RIMOWA, Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, VARIETY, The Wall Street Journal. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. Look for the Official Partner seal at their venues at the Festival. sundance.org/festival

Sundance Institute
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Eighth Grade, Blindspotting, The Tale, Get Out, The Big Sick, Strong Island, Blackfish, Top of the Lake, Winter’s Bone, The Wolfpack, Dear White People, Trapped, Brooklyn, Little Miss Sunshine, 20 Feet From Stardom, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home.

(Source: Press release provided by Sundance Media Relations)

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