EDITOR’S NOTE: The Utah Review’s 2023 Sundance Film Festival coverage begins Jan. 18 and will continue through Jan. 29.
There are still opportunities for volunteers to assist either in-person or in online roles for the Sundance Film Festival, which opens Jan. 19. Anyone who can commit to at least 32 hours of service during the festival, which will run through Jan. 29, will receive some substantial perks. They include seeing films, receiving branded festival swag and meals, and being a part of the creative buzz that surrounds Sundance. Deadline to apply is Jan. 11.
“The Sundance Film Festival would not be possible without our volunteers, many of whom are Utah residents. You’ll find our volunteers at the ticketing booth, inside the theater and at the information booth,” Brian Marquez, senior manager of talent at Sundance Institute, says. “There’s a special sense of community that is felt everywhere you turn and our volunteers contribute to that every Festival.”
Volunteers can opt to participate either in Salt Lake City, Park City, or at the Sundance Resort near Provo. They can assist in different departments. Tasks include ushering in a theater, assisting with ticketing, and helping people navigate from one festival venue to another. Volunteers are also needed for theater crews, staffing at the information booth, assistance at transit nodes and help on the online platform for the festival.
This will be the first Sundance since 2020 with an in-person component but after moving the 2021 and 2022 festivals online, organizers decided that this year would include a hybrid component, as films also will become available online, beginning Jan. 24 and continuing through the remaining half of the festival, which ends Jan. 29.
The festival’s first day (Jan. 19) will be packed with premieres and events in Park City. This includes 11 features and a short film program. In addition, there is a new event: Opening Night: A Taste of Sundance, which will be presented by IMDbPro. The celebration will kick off the Festival welcoming everyone back together again while raising funds for the Institute’s critical year-round artist support. The evening will honor Ryan Coogler, Nikyatu Jusu, W. Kamau Bell, and more whose journeys have been connected to Sundance throughout the years.
The festival’s Salt Lake City Opening Night Gala Film is Blueback, premiering at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center on Jan. 20. The festival will expand its presence in Salt Lake City, including at The Megaplex Theatres at The Gateway. The film, directed by Robert Connolly, is based on the 1997 novella by Tim Winton. The story is about a marine biologist whose research of the Australian coral reef is interrupted when her elderly mother suffers a stroke. The title refers to a rare fish species (the blue groper).
The online slate, which will be available during the festival’s second half, will include all Competition titles (U.S. Dramatic, U.S. Documentary, World Cinema Dramatic, World Cinema Documentary, and NEXT), as well as work across other sections of the feature film program, Indie Episodic and Shorts Programs.
The slate was among the most intensely competitive for curation this year. The full slate includes 101 feature-length films, representing 23 countries. Of note, 32 of 115 (28%) feature film directors are first-time feature filmmakers, and 17 of the feature films and projects were supported by Sundance Institute in development through direct granting or residency labs. World premieres make up 94% of the slate. These films were selected from 15,855 submissions, including 4,061 feature-length films. Of the 4,061 feature film submissions, 1,662 were from the U.S., and 2,399 were international.
The 64 short films were selected from 10,981 submissions, the highest number on record. Of these submissions, 4,996 were from the U.S. and 5,985 were international. The four Indie Episodic projects were selected from 519 submissions. This upcoming year’s Short Film program includes work from 23 countries and the Indie Episodic represents works from five countries. Among the selected shorts is I Have No Tears, and I Must Cry by Utah filmmaker Luis Fernando Puente.
For information about volunteer opportunities, see the festival’s website for more information.