Every winter in Utah, the Sundance Film Festival becomes the ultimate gathering of original storytellers and audiences seeking new voices and fresh perspectives. Their annual program includes dramatic and documentary features and short films; series and episodic content; and New Frontier, showcasing emerging media in the form of multimedia installations, performances, and films. They also host daily filmmaker conversations, panel discussions, and live music events. Since 1985, hundreds of films that have launched at the Festival have gained critical recognition and acclaim, reaching new audiences worldwide.
November 2018, I was asked if I was going to attend Sundance. My answer, “Sundance… uhhh, that’ll be a no! I’m not going to cold ass Utah and what is there for black folks to do?” During the 2019 festival, I began to see national black news media reports on films that represented black filmmakers and actors. It had gotten me to think that not attending was not a smart move. Throughout the news that was circulating around the social media streets, I got to see the various experiences black media, films, actors and actresses were having, and I wanted in on all that greatness!
The 2020 Sundance Film Festival is happening now until February 2, 2020. I’m excited to say that I have working credentials to show my experience to you, our IMPACT Magazine readers. Not only will I be sharing the films, but also sharing the beautiful state of Utah. Just looking at the mountains is a sight to see; it is truly majestic! I have come to find out there are a great amount of black people here who are doing an amazing work! I cannot wait to share who they are and what they do! Utah has a history of not holding blacks in the highest regard, but nevertheless, we (the black community) are here in this space making a major IMPACT during Sundance and throughout our everyday lives!
Some of the films, panels, and events I’m excited to share with you from the festival are:
- Growing up in West Baltimore, teenage Mouse (JAHI DI’ALLO WINSTON, Queen & Slim, Proud Mary, The Upside) feels the fierce pull of different forces: Between notorious ex-con Blax (Grammy-nominated best-selling artist MEEK MILL) and concerned Detective Rivers (WILLIAM CATLETT, TV’s “Black Lightning”), and between the straight path set for Mouse by his concerned mother (TEYONAH PARRIS, If Beale Street Could Talk, Dear White People, TV’s “Empire”) and the dangers of gang life, which took his brother’s life. The one truth Mouse knows is that he loves the power, artistry, and energy of “The Ride” — the exhilarating motorized-dirt-bike scene that is both a pastime and passion on the streets of Baltimore. During one eventful summer, Mouse has to steer his way through two father figures, a first girlfriend, and the illegal but irresistible thrill of stunt-riding that makes him and his friends feel like CHARM CITY KINGS.
- The Atlantic Presents: Film Talk: The 40-Year-Old Version The Atlantic brings together director, screenwriter, and star Radha Blank and producer Lena Waithe, in conversation with senior editor Lauren Williams, to talk about their film, and their unique vantage points as black women in the entertainment industry.
- The Blackhouse Foundation stands out as a bastion for the most influential and impactful Black writers, directors, producers, crew, actors and actresses throughout film, television, digital media, and beyond. It continues to elevate such talent into the spotlight on a global scale via engagements at Sundance.
- WarnerMedia’s Our Stories to Tell, an invite-only pop up experience from HBO, TNT and TBS celebrating their commitment to multicultural storytelling, creators and audiences, taking place during the first weekend of the festival.
- The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) will host “Women Breaking Barriers Year 3: How Far Have We Come?” panel to discuss new challenges that have arose for women in the entertainment industry with actor and producer Kerry Washington.
- Screening BAD HAIR, with an all star lineup Justin Simien (Director), Ashley Blaine Featherson (Cast), Daheli Hall (Cast), Elle Lorraine (Cast), Jay Pharoah (Cast), James Van Der Beek (Cast), Lena Waithe (Cast), Michelle Hurd (Cast), Robin Thede (Cast), Yaani King Mondschein (Cast), Oren Moverman (Executive Producer), Julia Lebedev (Producer), Eddie Vaisman (Producer). The films premise is: When an ambitious young woman is pressured into getting a weave in order to succeed in 1989’s image-obsessed world of music television, her career flourishes though it comes at a cost much greater than money.
I’m so looking forward to these and many other films, discussions, and events. Be sure to keep a watch out on what’s happening with IMPACT Magazine during the Sundance Film Festival!
Written by: EIC Tunisha Brown, @momentswithtunisha