With over 110 feature films, 65 short films, and three experimental works on schedule, Sundance Film Festival 2023 I started Thursday with a hoe, Sundance Scoop.
During that inaugural press conference, Eugene Hernandez, Festival President of Public Programs and Incoming Director of the Sundance Film Festival, had a conversation with Sundance Executive Director Joanna Vicente, Programming Director Kim Yutani, and Senior Programmer and Director of Strategic Initiatives Jon Nein about what it means for the festival to be presented in person after the festival It became virtual in 2021.
“I think it’s incredible what Sundance has done with a virtual festival,” said Vicente. We’re excited to continue building on that. But, of course, we realize that the most important thing in the festival is to personally unite the community.
The live festival is where the magic, the irreplaceable, can happen, according to Vicente, who paid tribute to her late friends and giants of the film industry — producer Edward R. Pressman and Ravi Srinivasan, senior programming director at the Toronto International Film Festival.
“It’s about being here and having conversations and immersing yourself in movies and having conversations,” she said. “This is where it all happens, and we wanted to make sure we prioritized the personal experience.”
However, Vicente and her team understood the reach of virtual programming.
“This year we have a strong digital offering,” she said. “There are more than 80 films on the digital platform.”
By default, Yotani said, her team of programmers made sure this year’s festival had something for everyone.
“This is by design,” she said. “We have a group of programmers from different backgrounds who embrace different genres and formats,” she said. “I think it’s the bringing together of all of us who contribute to this program that makes it what it is. When you look at the program, you see so many different genres, styles, and approaches to storytelling. It’s an essential part of what we do.”
While the January Film Festival is the most popular program offered by the Sundance Institute, a nonprofit founded in 1981 by Robert Redford committed to developing independent artists, there are programs throughout the year that also help fulfill its mission, according to Vicente..
“Of course the Festival is the most prestigious program we do with Sundance, but as Robert Redford, who is no longer here today, says the engine, the really important work of the year is around nurturing and supporting artists,” she said. . “While the festival is a great platform to showcase and share work, we have a number of great residential labs, grants, and programs.”
These labs include the Sundance Collab, a global learning and storytelling community for creators, Outreach & Inclusion, a program that builds on the nonprofit’s commitment to supporting and celebrating the voices of historically underrepresented communities, and the Screenwriters Lab, which Vicente visited prior to her appearance in SundanceScope.
“There’s an incredible work that happens when you have a (fantastic) curatorial team of the brightest, most exciting storytellers, and then bring in established consultants who are passionate about helping filmmakers and bringing those stories to life,” she said.
According to the title of the conference, the international press who attended in person and was actually informed of the addition of a new documentary film, “Justice”, which was added this morning to the list of films.
“Justice” is director Doug Liman’s documentary debut, and it focuses on allegations of sexual misconduct brought against Brett Kavanaugh, before he was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice, and the investigation that followed, according to Yutani.
She said, “We talked a lot about personal stories and the power of film, particularly in documentary filmmaking, and this is such a powerful documentary that we felt it was important to add.” We literally saw it yesterday, and it’s a movie that defies existing narratives. It asks questions and I think it also promotes conversations, which is what all the movies on our show do.”
The world premiere of “Justice” will be at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, January 20, at the Park Avenue Theatre, 1800 Park Ave.
Other news revealed during Sundance Scoop is an update to the festival’s New Frontier programme, which has curated collections of experimental cross-media work that included biotech, mixed reality (MR), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
While the virtual programming of the past two years has solidified the New Frontier concept, programmer Shari Frilot and her team are taking this year to reassess, according to Yutani.
“(They plan to) incubate their ideas to do some research, but also reach out to some artists to look at the future of New Frontier,” she said. “We’re excited to give the team this space to look at where the new Frontier will go forward.”
The 2023 Sundance Film Festival runs through January 29. For information about the film festival, visit festival.sundance.org.