In his first communiqué as Sundance’s Festival Director, Eugene Hernandez has doled out new information as far as the slate and venues for 2024, also addressing the timing of programming and a “challenging moment” for artists, as the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes continue.
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The lineup for the 40th edition of the Utah festival, taking place from January 18-28, is being set now and will again include more than 90 features and 60+ shorts, he said. Hernandez went on to highlight that while early submissions deadlines are coming up (as early as July 31st for short films), with late deadlines to come in September, it’s still not too late for filmmakers to apply at this point.
This year’s in-person premieres will take place at such familiar Park City venues as the Eccles Theater, the Egyptian Theatre, Holiday Village Cinemas, the Library Center Theatre, The Ray Theatre, Redstone Cinemas, and Prospector Square Theatre, with private events at The Park. Conversations and other gatherings will once again take place at Filmmaker Lodge on Main Street, while Salt Lake City screenings will go down at the Megaplex Theatres at The Gateway, the Salt Lake Film Society’s Broadway Centre Cinemas, and the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.
Screenings will kick off a bit earlier this year, beginning around noon on January 18th, so those coming in from out of state, who are looking to take part fully in opening day, are advised to look at setting travel for the day prior. Premiere screenings of each film will continue through Tuesday the 23rd, with multiple screenings of each title in both Park City and SLC. A “great time for new artists” to join in, Hernandez said, is the midpoint of the festival, which will offer plenty of further screenings, as well as special programming. “The midpoint is also when we will be welcoming back Festival alumni from across our four decades — along with the next generation of artists — to join us on the Mountain to take in our special events, see this year’s films and connect and reunite with one another,” the Festival Director explained.
The festival will launch at-home screenings of films in its five Competition sections (including NEXT) on Thursday, January 25, and films invited to other sections can also opt in to screen online during this limited sneak preview window. Press and industry will get online access one day earlier, with the Festival Awards to again take place at The Ray Theatre on the 26th.
In addressing plans for the festival, Hernandez of course took time to recognize that times are tough for so many of the artists who have called Sundance home, given the dual strikes and continuing uncertainty as to when we’ll see resolution. “This is…a challenging moment as artists fight for a more equitable entertainment industry. We’re more passionate than ever about the importance of celebrating and protecting fiercely independent voices; finding, nurturing and supporting a diverse roster of art and artists; as well as spotlighting work that can entertain us while it challenges and moves us,” Hernandez wrote. “As we plan for next year, it has been invigorating and inspiring to reflect on the history of this great Festival and dig in with colleagues to shape a sustainable vision for the future that builds and embraces audiences from all walks of life.”
Hernandez went on to add that coming aboard as Festival Director has been “a true honor and full circle moment” for him, having first attended Sundance back in 1993. “There I met lifelong friends and colleagues, and even launched Indiewire with the Institute’s crucial support,” he wrote. “So much has changed in our field since then. In the midst of yet another moment of evolution, we believe deeply in the vital impact of independent filmmaking, discovery, and the enduring power of festivals as a bridge between audiences and artists.”
Further details as to the festival’s plans as far as “all things tickets and passes” will be doled out in late September.
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