MuggleNet’s Sundance Film Festival Adventures
The Sundance Film Festival has been going on for 34 years. This year, MuggleNet was lucky enough to be able to attend the festival for the first time. I, of course, jumped at the opportunity to cover the event and took off for its opening weekend.
The festival is a non-profit program of Sundance Institute and is one of the most powerful ways to support and amplify the works of independent artists. It is human-centered, not data-driven. Diversity and inclusion are some of the most important aspects of the festival. This year, 63% of the credentialed press are from underrepresented groups, and 47% of directors included in the festival are women.
Following the opening day press conference, I sat down with the director of The Magic Life of V, Tonislav Hristov, for an interview about his film. You can read about the film, as well as our interview, here.
On the evening of the first day, I was lucky enough to be one of the few credentialed press to be allowed access to the press line for one of the most hyped-up films of the festival, Native Son. The film was directed by Rashid Johnson and stars the likes of Ashton Sanders, Margaret Qualley, Nick Robinson, KiKi Layne, Bill Camp, and Sanaa Lathan.
Due to schedule conflicts and a lack of ticket availability, I was unable to see a screening of this film. However, it was acquired by HBO, so you can bet I’ll be sitting down to watch once it is available.
The next day, I attended a panel by The New York Times called Times Talks. The panel I attended featured the legendary, Jackie Chan. Jackie spent the entire hour sharing anecdotes from his early days, and also discussed his environmentalism. Jackie kept up his energy the entire panel and had everyone’s ear while talking about the importance of taking care of our planet.
That evening, I got in for a screening of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, which is a film that featured Noma Dumezweni, whom we know and love as the OG Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. You can check out my review of the film here.
On the morning of the 26th, I sat down for an impromptu interview with actress Renée Willett (Beast of Burden, Sharknado 3) where we discussed her career as well as what it’s like being a woman in the entertainment industry. Click the toggle below for a full transcript of the interview. Renée was an absolute delight to meet and talk with, and I really look forward to seeing what she does next!
What happened next in the afternoon surprised me. I attended a YouTube panel that featured YouTube stars such as Liza Koshy, Hannah Lux Davis, and Angela Courtin. I wasn’t allowed to record the panel, and I was seated in the back without great views of the stage, but it was an amazing discussion of being a woman in the industry and the best ways to get your start in YouTube.
There was a second half of the panel that involved the co-creators of celebrity YouTube channels such as Sadao Turner (Will Smith’s channel), Lauren Fortner (Madelaine Petsch’s channel), Brian Mendoza and Etienne Aurelius (Jason Momoa’s channel), as well as Aquaman himself, Jason Momoa. The panel workers saw I was struggling to see the stage, and before the second panel was due to begin, they brought me up front and center to view the second half of the presentation.
This was a real treat to be able to see (and yes, Jason Momoa is as big in real life as he seems).
That night was, perhaps, the most exciting. I was one of only about four working press people allowed into the already-packed press line for the most anticipated film of the festival, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. If you’ve been living under a rock for the past week and haven’t heard of it, here is the trailer:
This press line was just a whirlwind of star after star. I was able to sneak in a quick question with one of the film’s actors, Haley Joel Osment, and ask him about what he thought was so unique about Ted Bundy’s story.
Zac Efron was the last to walk the carpet, and when asked what he learned from portraying the infamous Ted Bundy, he said:
The thing I learned from Ted is to never give up… Well… obviously not like that… [laughs]. It will make sense when you see the movie.
Check out the photos below from the press line, and you can read my review of the film here.
The following day, I was treated to a brunch sponsored by Planned Parenthood, where all attendees came together to voice their support for the company that is such an important part of women’s’ health. I was just sitting on a couch enjoying some of the hors-d’oeuvres provided, trying to get some work done on my laptop when I looked up for a brief moment, and imagine my surprise when I saw none other than Tessa Thompson (of Thor: Ragnarok, Westworld, etc.) fame. Tessa discussed her role in the fight for women’s’ rights and spoke about the 4% Challenge in Hollywood. Check out our exclusive video below!
I, unfortunately, was not able to stay for the whole festival and ended up having to leave the next day. One thing is for sure, Sundance Film Festival is its own little world, and when you leave, you’ll immediately want to come back. It’s the kind of place where you feel like anything can happen (even in the TSA line on your way out, yes I’m talking to you, Charlie Heaton, I saw you). You’ll not only likely meet celebrities you never thought you’d meet in your dizziest daydreams, but you’ll get to meet fans just like you, and hopefully make friendships that will last a lifetime. And, of course, the films aren’t too bad either.
That’s all we have for our Sundance Roundup! Was there something you particularly liked about our coverage? Let us know in the comments below!