What To Do At The Sundance Film Festival 2020; So Much More Than Movies
On the eve of the Sundance Film Festival, I get a knot in my stomach and a sense of dread. It’s not about the swarm of entitled strangers that invade Park City, Utah, as most locals might guess. Just check out the Facebook posts on Park City Bitch and Complain. It’s from a combination of excitement, anticipation, overwhelming information flying into my Inbox and the fear that I will be behind the eight ball at every turn.
Once that first Thursday of the Fest hits, there is no stopping the machine that has evolved since it began in 1978. The 10-day homage to independent filmmaking has gone from a handful of movie showings to a cinematic universe of sponsor lounges, parties, panel discussions, host villages, concerts, traffic gridlock, and unending lines for screenings and events.
That first day of the Film Fest snowballs into mass mayhem for the first four days and I’m the one with the arms and legs waving from it as it tumbles down Main Street. Like most every attendee to the Fest, I overbook myself. There is no end to what to do at the Sundance Film Festival. There are panels on the panels, meetings with sponsors and brands, and even a spa treatment on my horizon. Granted, I can breathe on Tuesday…while I’m driving eight hours to Denver for the Outdoor Retailer/SIA show.
Back To Sundance
For the first weekend of the Festival, Main Street looks nothing like Main Street. Park City leaders have approved a series of temporary licenses for corporate and not-for-profit popups that hang out their own logos and shingles. Some spaces are open to the public; while some are media, VIP and filmmakers invite only. Almost all close for private events when the sun goes down.
The Activations of Sundance
When a brand comes to an event and sets up shop for exposure and networking either with the public or VIPs, it’s called an “activation.” Sometimes these brands rent out a spot for the entire Fest run. Sometimes, they only need the location for a day. Here is a list of what I’m aware of but it’s by no means comprehensive. If you know of anything else I would love to hear about it in the comments.
Chase Sapphire On Main
If you have a Chase Sapphire credit card or know someone who does, get over to Chase Sapphire on Main.
Guests can sample food from around the globe, view and participate in Los Angeles Times live film panel discussions with filmmakers and talent from the top films of the Festival, attend celebrity-chef cooking demos, pick up a free latte, listen to live music and more. The venue is open to the public but Chase Sapphire cardmembers will have access to parties, a dining concierge, movie ticketing and a private lounge featuring a premium coffee bar from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and whiskey and beer tastings from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The fifth annual Brand Storytelling At Sundance Film Festival is a fest within the Fest and runs from January 22 – 26, 2020. Launched in 2016, this event attracts major brands and high-profile content development and distribution entities for an invite-only program of keynote chats, panel presentations, film premiers and screenings, live musical performances and more. Basecamp for the event is The Lodges at Deer Valley.
“The most successful brands today are those who are invested in content that entertains, informs and inspires their target audience and retains customers,” said Rick Parkhill, Director of Brand Storytelling.
Take a look at their schedule here.
WarnerMedia Lodge: Elevating Storytelling with AT&T, located at 675 Main St (at Heber Ave)
From January 24-27, WarnerMedia will transform the space located at Heber & Main at 660 Main St. (the old Zoom Restaurant) into the nexus for WarnerMedia activations.
WarnerMedia Lodge: Elevating Storytelling with AT&T will host daily lunches for celebrities and tastemakers, premiere parties and after-parties, industry panels and cast dinners for some of the festival’s most buzzed about titles and WarnerMedia properties. The full playlist is here.
The three-day Our Stories to Tell pop-up experience is sponsored by HBO, TNT and TBS to celebrate their commitment to multicultural storytelling, creators and audiences. This multi-day event runs Friday, January 24 through Sunday, January 26th and will be located at 306 Main St. The event space will transform throughout the weekend to accommodate various invite-only, interactive programming meaningful panel conversations and discussions with on-screen and behind-the-scenes talent, exclusive dinners with casts, and more to showcase ongoing initiatives that authentically engage African American, Asian American, LGBTQ+, and Latinx audiences. You can see the full itinerary here.
HBO will host a multi-day, immersive pop-up experience at OP Rockwell, 268 Main St., from January 25-27, 12:30-6 p.m., in support of the six-part documentary series, McMillion$. The series premiers at Sundance but debuts on HBO, Monday, February 3. Sundance attendees will have the chance to win a game that hasn’t been rigged; the interactive experience will take guests through the true story of the $24 million McDonald’s Monopoly fraud that shocked the nation at the height of the game’s popularity.
Independent Filmmaker Day
Rubenstein Business Law and Artists United present a private, day-long event on Jan. 28, 2020, to foster the development, production and promotion of new projects in film, media and beyond. The day which takes place at the Park City Hotel features a rapid-fire Pitch Competition, Expert Roundtables, and an After-Party to add new professionals to your network. Register here.
Located at the Ray next to the Holiday Village Cinemas, this year’s New Frontier is a social and creative space that showcases media installations, multimedia performances, transmedia experiences, panel discussions, and more. There are actually three locations-
New Frontier at The Ray
1768 Park Ave., Park City
Avg. eWaitlist admittance: 7
The Box at The Ray
1768 Park Ave., Park City
Avg. eWaitlist admittance: 10
New Frontier Central
950 Iron Horse Dr., Park City
Open to credential holders
Thirst Aid Kit Live
Joining hosts Bim Adewunmi and Nichole Perkins for a hilarious, illuminating and thirsty conversation is actor Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaii Five-O, Lost). Thirst Aid Kit live is a podcast centered on pop culture and how it shapes desire. Saturday, January 25, 4:30pm, Filmmaker Lodge; 550 Main St.
The Kia Telluride Supper Suite
The Supper Suite pop-up returns to celebrate Hollywood’s A-list attending the busy indie film festival with a takeover of The Mustang restaurant. The gifting suite/dining spot will serve up modern american bistro dishes from Toronto’s “Marbl Toronto” (http://marbltoronto.com/).
Kia Motors has used the activation to promote their new vehicle releases over the past five years and most recently with their eight-passenger Telluride SUV ahead of the production release. For 2020, the Kia Telluride Supper Suite will bring a fleet of chauffeur driven all-wheel drive Tellurides to Park City to shuttle celebs. “The 2020 Kia Telluride is our best vehicle yet to handle the high altitudes and snow-filled streets of Park City and it makes perfect sense to showcase Telluride’s big, bold and boxy looks and ultra-comfortable interior,” explains James Bell, Kia’s Director of Corporate Communications & Social. In addition, Molson Coors Beverage Company will serve Peroni Nastro Azzurro.
Kia Telluride Supper Suite will also host the annual Collider Portrait and Media Studio during the day where filmmakers, actors, media and influencers can conduct interviews and take cast portraits.
The Kia Telluride Supper Suite also will host The Creative Coalition‘s Annual Spotlight Initiative Awards Benefit Dinner for honorees Rachel Brosnahan, Julie Taymor, and Jim Gaffigan.
Look here for their events.
Audible Inc., the world’s largest producer and seller of spoken-word entertainment and audiobooks, will make its Sundance Film Festival debut at 692 Main Street as the Festival’s exclusive audio entertainment sponsor. Creators and Festival attendees will have the opportunity to attend Los Angeles Times-curated and hosted panel discussions, fireside chats, daily sound baths and more.
Audible Speakeasy attendees are also invited to relax through daily, 30-minute sound baths hosted by Sara Auster. Guests will be introduced to sound meditation with guided instructions focused on breathing practices.
Check out the action here.
Legion M x Pizza Red Hut Lodge
Legion M partners with top Hollywood creators – from independent filmmakers to big Hollywood studios – to produce a slate of movies, TV, and digital content. They are the first media company in history designed to be owned by fans. Come here how they do it. Mix with fellow Sundance attendees and the Legion M crew, or come join the live Twitch stream on Saturday night.
Lounge is open to the public Jan. 24-26 but all attendees must be individually registered. https://legionm.us13.list-manage.com/track/click?u=a7b9813f53cf8a1dcbe84ffd6&id=f1d7c0e8bd&e=04d7553547
Browse the weekend’s events.
Indigenous Filmmakers Lounge
The Lounge located at Park City Live will feature panel discussions, elevated dialogue, networking and live performances during the opening weekend of the Festival with a focus on narrative change and creating opportunities for Native peoples to build sustainable careers in the industry. The lounge is open to Festival attendees from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with an Indigenous Filmmakers Reception and live entertainment at The Cabin from 7:30 p.m. to midnight Saturday.
The Indigenous Filmmakers Lounge is made possible through the generous sponsorship and support of Gateway Entertainment, a new non-profit initiative dedicated to creating opportunities for under-served communities in filmed entertainment with a particular focus on developing behind-the-camera careers in the industry.
All lounge events are free, but registration and tickets are required. Register by clicking here. Follow the Indigenous Filmmakers Lounge on Instagram at @IndigenousLoungeSFF
Ecoluxe Lounge Park City/ABC4 Media Lounge, 255 Main St. Jan.25. 11a-6p
As a regular fixture at Sundance, Debbie Durkin knows how to put together a premiere gifting and gathering space. This is her 13th luxury suite during the Fest and she’s partnered with local brands including ABC4 to welcome celebs, VIPs and media to the Ecoluxe Lounge for a little gifting therapy. Sponsors include Modere, Lehi Mills and Chef Bryan Woolley.
The Retreat to Benefit Project Green, 580 Main St.
The Retreat is one of the longest running lounges at Sundance where Hollywood VIP’s can enjoy music, wine and catch a breath between their busy festival schedule. Executive producers Kim Kreiss and Patryjca Siewert-Towns founded Project Green 501c3 in order to protect green space for future generations and donates to existing summer camps and theraputic programs for underserved kids.
Sponsors include Twisted Cedar/CBC BevCo; NFP & Chubb: Entertainment Specialty Groups that provide customized solutions for film producers’ insurance needs including tax credits and completion bonds. Big Island Coffee Roasters; Vernal Brewing Company; Atlanta Specialty Woods; Excelsior Candles; Angela Horton and more.
WELLHAUS x SEED Us Society
When it debuted last year, WELLHAUS was the first fully integrated health, wellness and ancillary product concept house during the festival. They are back this year to host film premieres, dinners, receptions, daytime experiential activities, happy hours and panel discussions on cannabis in Hollywood and other topics.
WELLHAUS has partnered with three local venues to create a first-ever multi-location brand experience at the Festival: the WELLHAUS Spa Experience at the PuraVida Spa at Sky & Main Hotel (201 Heber Street at Main); the WELLHAUS Café Experience offering complimentary organic coffees and healthy snacks at the Main Street Deli (525 Main Street) and the WELLHAUS Lounge at the brand-new Old Town Cellars (OTC, 408 Main Street) from January 24-27.
Presenting Sponsor The Erba Verde Group (EVG) will implement a series of unique programming and hospitality activations throughout the duration of Sundance, each aimed to educate and entertain the public and the festival community on the rapidly growing cannabis and CBD movement and wider health and wellness industries.
Join SEED Us Society for their first-annual activation during 2020’s Sundance/Slamdance Film Festivals. They’ve partnered with WELLHAUS, the new health, wellness and CBD/cannabis-focused event platform.
The SEED’s afternoon experience in mind, body and soul connection is free and open to the public, and features keynote speakers, impact investors, community builders, a sound bath exercise, movement and networking, including a talk led by Theodore Adams III, Stan Lee Foundation co-founder, Gravity Impact Fund, and MindAstronaut/SEED Advisory.
Indie Entertainment Showcase 2020
The by-invitation only event from Cloud 21 & Kultura PR will host a panel featuring the top writers, actors, producers and filmmakers in the industry- Vincent De Paul, Ali M. Aksu, Renee Meriste and Tracy Vicory-Rosenquest; The special event will be held on January 25, 2020 at 2:30 PM p.m. at 710 Main St.
Event sponsors include Drylab, Château de Berne and Nutrivista Water, and giftbag sponsors Butcher’s Bunches, SleepPhones, My Power of One and OrganiCBD.
Acura Festival Village (Fri, Jan 24 – Sat, Feb 1; 480 Swede Alley)
Throughout the week, Acura will host exclusive premiere parties for Four Good Days and Sylvie’s Love, inclusive live performances by headliner JOHNNYSWIM and many others as well as various panels and activations.
In addition, Acura will be shuttling filmmakers around in 100 Acura MDX SUVs. Acura will also display a full vehicle line up throughout Park City, including the brand’s hybrid supercar – the NSX – to highlight the brand’s sponsorship and showcase Acura’s Precision Crafted Performance brand DNA.
During public hours (12 p.m.-6 p.m.), Acura Festival Village guests will be treated to live music, DJs, and refreshments — from coffee and tea to Stella Artois, Bon & Viv, and High West Distillery. The Acura Stage will also serve as the home to intimate panel discussions led by The Atlantic and Wall Street Journal
From Fri, Jan 24 – Mon, Jan 27, The IMDb Studio at Acura Festival Village will host on-camera interviews with leading actors, directors and writers.
“Every year, we are inspired by the talent and creativity we see at the Sundance Film Festival,” said Jon Ikeda, Vice President and Acura Brand Officer. “Acura is proud to support independent filmmakers by partnering with the Sundance Institute to give them a platform where they can advance their voices and dreams.”
Here is the full schedule of events happening.
The official television partner of the Sundance Film Festival will host a variety of must-attend events at 268 Main Street throughout the 2020 festival.
This year, the SundanceTV HQ will feature panels in partnership with The Hollywood Reporter focused on actors and indie filmmakers, with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association discussing women breaking barriers in Hollywood, and with AMC Networks, New York Women in Film & Television, Women in Film Los Angeles and ReFrame on gender parity, inclusion and the way forward.
Sundance ASCAP Music Café, 751 Main Street
ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) announces an eclectic music lineup for its 22nd Annual Sundance ASCAP Music Café, taking place January 24 – 31, 2020. Beginning at 2 p.m. each day, the Café will feature a dynamic mix of both established and emerging songwriters and artists. The venue is open to all credential holders on a first come basis. If there is room, the general public will be admitted.
See the complete schedule of performances.
The Blackhouse Foundation
The bastion for the most influential and impactful Black writers, directors, producers, crew, actors and actresses throughout film, television, and digital media returns with presenting sponsor Facebook. They will host a series of high-level panels and discussions with emerging talent, top executives, and tastemakers throughout the culture during the first weekend of the Fest.
Friday, 1/24, 4pm-6pm
Join Blackhouse and Facebook in a deep-dive conversation with the directors behind a selection of Sundance’s hottest short films.
Saturday, 1/25, 10am-12pm
Join Facebook Watch for brunch and an intimate conversation with Complex’s Editor in Chief, Damien Scott, as they discuss the future of digital storytelling, the power of building communities, and the importance of elevating and engaging creative Black voices in the industry.
The Blackhouse Festival App 2020 is now live. It will include the most updated information regarding programming and events at The Blackhouse during Sundance. Also check out “Digital Portrait Series” as part of Facebook’s SEEN initiative. They will share on Facebook and Instagram, filmmakers’ portraits and a Q&A video series to highlight the great Black films and filmmakers at Sundance this year.
Canada Goose Basecamp
Escape from the cold at 558 Main St. The public is invited to try on the brand’s iconic parkas, learn about their history in front of and behind the camera, enjoy hot and cold beverages and stay connected with complimentary Wi-Fi and power charging stations from January 24- 27.