Free Fail:  A Day In The Life Of Failure

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On January 20, 2014, the Festival celebrates failure with a day-long series of panels and other events. Artists and cultural luminaries lead discussions and workshops designed to embrace failure as essential to risk-taking, innovation, and the creative process.


Throughout the day, we will have an eclectic selection of hands-on workshops designed to experience failure first-hand. Held at different venues around Park City, the workshops are a chance to learn from the masters as you try your hand at something new. Try your hand at drawing with master artist Tom Sachs, attempt a high kick with the Rockettes, master the art of Instagram with co-founder Mike Krieger and artist Taryn Simon, or embrace one of the opportunities to fail! Click the links below for workshop details and to reserve your free tickets.



Monday, January 20, 11:30 a.m.
Egyptian Theatre, Park City

One of the enduring human enigmas is that so many iconic endeavors — from Nobel Prize-winning achievements to entrepreneurial inventions and works in the arts — are not discoveries but conversions, corrections after failed attempts.

Moderated by author, scholar, and curator Sarah Lewis, whose upcoming book The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery explores this theme across myriad disciplines from science to athletics to music and art. Exploratory Detours takes a look at this intriguing issue.

By pulling together science, scholarship, and philosophy, we can better understand the fascinating relationship linking creativity, failure, and mastery that extends far beyond the familiar platitudes. What does it mean to have grit? How does validation work? What can we learn from the way jazz musicians improvise? Our diverse group of panelists look at the ways irreplaceable gifts spring from failure in creative endeavors.

Panelists include: Sarah Lewis (author, The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery),  Charles J. Limb, MD (Dr. Limb studies the neural mechanisms behind deep creativity, especially in relation to music and other art forms), Jill Soloway (director, writer, and producer for the film Afternoon Delight, and TV series such as Six Feet Under and United States of Tara), Chris Stone (President, Open Society Foundations), Dave Eggers (author, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, co-founder, 826 National), and Sundance Institute President and Founder Robert Redford.



Filmmaker Lodge
Elks Building, 550 Main St. (Second Floor), Park City

Tales from the trenches: artists, filmmakers, and actors look at failure within the creative process. Always an eclectic mix, previous Cinema Café guests include Louis CK, Roger Corman, Julie Delpy, Christopher Dodd, David Gordon Green, Dave Grohl, Ice-T, Barbara Kopple, Spike Lee, Brit Marling, James Marsh, Gaspar Noé, Parker Posey, Dee Rees, Ben Wheatley, and Benh Zeitlin. Cinema Café is presented by Chase Sapphire Preferred®.



Filmmaker Lodge
Elks Building, 550 Main St. (Second Floor), Park City
Monday, January 20, 1:00 p.m.

While the film industry enjoys pointing out that nobody knows anything, it’s a business that is determined to know things as definitely as possible. But as any screenwriter will tell you, many of the most inspired moments in creating a film come from taking a wrong turn, or half-a-dozen wrong turns. Truthfully, we know that independent film is all about committing to things that “can never work.” Join a group of veterans for their guide to risk, reward, and on-the-job failing.

Panelists include Graham Taylor (William Morris Endeavor), Michael Barker (Sony Pictures Classics), Tom Rothman (TriStar Productions), Tom Quinn (RADiUS-TWC), Effie Brown (Dear White People,), and John Battsek (The Green Prince, CAPTIVATED The Trials of Pamela Smart, Happy Valley), moderated by Kyle Buchanan (New York Magazine).



New Frontier at the Gateway
136 Heber Ave., Park City
Monday, January 20, noon–1:30 p.m.

How does embracing risk and failure drive the creative process? Creating something new goes hand in hand with the risk of failure, which the New Frontier artists confront with every project. These artists continue to push boundaries and embrace the new in both their work and in their lives. Join them as they share what it takes to be on the vanguard of art, film and technology and how overcoming failure led to some of their best work. Moderated by Ruby Lerner (Executive Director, Creative Capital).



As programmers of the Sundance Film Festival, my staff and I are responsible for selecting the films that represent the year’s most original stories and freshest voices in independent film. While I’d like to think that we’ve refined and perfected our process lo these many years, we have never been—and still are not—immune to failure. In 1994 we showed the short film Bottle Rocket, directed by then up-and-comer Wes Anderson. When the feature was submitted to the Festival a few years later, we passed. We were wrong. The film was beloved by many and launched the careers of Wes Anderson, Owen Wilson, and Luke Wilson. So as part of Free Fail, I’m happy for the opportunity to right this wrong. My humble thanks to Mr. Anderson for condoning this screening.

– John Cooper
Director, Sundance Film Festival



DIRECTOR: Wes Anderson
SCREENWRITER: Owen Wilson, Wes Anderson
CAST: Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Ned Dowd, Shea Fowler, Haley Miller, Robert Musgrave
U.S.A., 1996, 95 min., color

©1996 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

They're not really criminals, but everybody's got to have a dream.

Monday, January 20, 6:00 p.m.
Yarrow Hotel Theatre