Celebrating Community at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival

Sundance Institute

By Sundance Institute Outreach & Inclusion

Welcome to our comprehensive list of all the major panels, events, and gatherings hosted at official Sundance Film Festival venues that center and celebrate voices from traditionally marginalized communities. Hosted by Sundance Institute, allied organizations, regional collaborators, artists collectives and more, these events raise discourse on equity, representation, and inclusion in the broader media landscape.

Join these artists and industry leaders that are changing the narrative of the future. The Festival also features events hosted by vanguard organizations such as MACRO, Firelight Media, Outfest, The Black List, A-Doc, The Female Quotient, and Brown Girls Doc Mafia. Precise events and programming from these amazing organizations are TBD; consult their websites for more information as the Festival nears.

Unless listed as invite or ticket required, events are open to all Festival credential holders and the general public as space allows.


The MACRO Lodge

Located at 625 Main St., The MACRO Lodge, hosted by MACRO founder and CEO Charles D. King (Sorry to Bother You, Mudbound, Fences) and his wife, Stacey Walker King, chief brand officer, returns to the Festival for its third annual showcase of screenings, panels, and parties to champion diversity, inclusion, and people of color. Featured events will include appearances by Kerry Washington, Issa Rae, America Ferrera, Eva Longoria, Winston Duke, Zazie Beetz, Daniel Dae Kim, Wilmer Valderrama, Tessa Thompson, Stella Meghie, Esteban Arango, Edson Oda, Justin Simien, dream hampton, Marvin Lemus, and Matthew A. Cherry. Midnight MACRO, MACRO’s annual late-night bash, will celebrate the company’s fifth anniversary. Events with Universal Pictures, Netflix, Sony, Facebook, and organizations that lead the charge for change in Hollywood are also confirmed. All events are invitation only.

The Blackhouse

The Blackhouse helps black creative voices and executives gain a better foothold in the industry. Celebrating 13 years of engaging and elevated programming since 2007, The Blackhouse Foundation once again returns to the 2020 Sundance Film Festival from January 24–27 at the Buona Vita Restaurant (804 Main St.). Leading up to the festival, The Blackhouse Foundation will reveal a stacked slate of panels, activations, discussions, and events. For more information, including how to RSVP, visit theblackhouse.org.

The Press Inclusion Initiative

In an ongoing effort to diversify the cultural criticism around our Festival’s program, the Institute’s Outreach & Inclusion and Media Relations teams are collaborating closely with foundation and corporate partners to create a more inclusive critical ecosystem at this year’s Festival. Once again, we are allocating a minimum of 20% of top-tier press passes to critics from underrepresented communities and providing travel stipends to 50 of those freelance journalists. We are also hosting a how-to-Festival webinar in advance of the Fest and a Day One welcome reception to help freelance journalists connect with reps from major outlets.

The Latinx House

The Latinx House is a gathering space to support the Latinx community and to celebrate Latinx excellence in film and entertainment. It is a place to discuss pressing issues and the content related to these stories. The Latinx House was co-founded by activist Monica Ramirez, filmmaker Alexandra Martinez Kondracke, and producer Olga Segura. The House will have a space at the Sundance Film Festival from Friday, January 24, to Sunday, January 26, and will feature insightful discussions, cocktail parties, and events, and more. For additional information, including how to RSVP, please visit thelatinxhouse.org.



Mexico’s New New Wave
2:00–3:30 p.m.

Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd Floor)

Once again, this year we are seeing a remarkable explosion of cinematic energy coming from Mexico. Join Los Angeles Times critic Carlos Aguilar, filmmakers Rodrigo Ruiz Patterson (Summer White) and Fernanda Valadez (Sin Señas Particulares), and others from this year’s program to explore where this energy is coming from, how it is expressing itself through form and subject matter, and how it speaks to a wider contemporary Latin American cinema.

Empowering Every Voice in Film Throughout the World

3:00–5:30 p.m.
Kimball Art Center, 1401 Kearns Blvd.

Now is the time to empower and inspire everyone to share their story. It’s only when we experience new perspectives through the lens of someone else’s experience that true change happens—but not everyone’s story is being told. When the lens is skewed, it offers a tilted view of society, and unrepresented groups cannot envision themselves as the creative voices driving the most-watched stories. That is a problem for the industry and for the world at large. Join this lively discussion with standout filmmakers on how to bring your own unique voice to life. Presented by Adobe.

Blackhouse Filmmaker Lodge Panel
4:30–6:30 p.m.

Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd Floor)

The Blackhouse Foundation returns to the Filmmaker Lodge with another history-making program. In past years, featured guests have included Harry Belafonte, Ice-T, genre-shaping black women in film, and some of the leading minds behind television and film’s most significant projects. Join us to see which dynamic voices we will bring to this year’s conversation. Visit theblackhouse.org for additional information.

Art + Inclusion Reception

7:30–10:30 p.m.

Kimball Art Center, 1401 Kearns Blvd.

Sundance Institute’s Outreach & Inclusion Program’s signature celebration, bringing together the diverse artists at this year’s Festival and the industry allies who support them. [Invite Required]


Has Industry Emphasis on Diversity and Inclusion Changed the Way We Tell Stories?

11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m.

Kimball Art Center, 1401 Kearns Blvd.

From increasing authentic content to providing opportunities for underrepresented individuals to work behind the scenes, consumer efforts to encourage the entertainment industry to be more inclusive are becoming increasingly apparent. This panel seeks to explore how the industry is changing the way they tell stories, how they have evolved business practices to be more inclusive, and how much more can be done to ensure full representation on the big and small screens. Presented by Easterseals.

Truth to Power

2:00–3:30 p.m.

Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd Floor)

In their role as truth tellers, Filipino journalist Maria Ressa (A Thousand Cuts) and Russian journalist Masha Gessen (Welcome to Chechnya), have both taken on autocratic heads of state. In this conversation, Patrick Gaspard, president of Open Society Foundations, and journalist Farai Chideya explore what it takes for journalists to go up against powerful regimes—and what is at stake if they don’t.

New Audiences: The Power of Storytelling in Education

2:30–4:30 p.m.

Kimball Art Center, 1401 Kearns Blvd.

What do shows like Bodyguard, On My Block, and Making a Murderer have in common? They were the most-binged shows in 2018—in other words, they’re stories people can’t stop watching. If educators want to improve student engagement, why not look to the power of storytelling to transform the classroom? Strayer Studios, in partnership with the Blackhouse Foundation, will discuss how aligning curriculum with authentic storytelling is shaping the future of education.

Power of Story: Just Art

2:30–4:00 p.m.

Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.

Art is uniquely capable of creating public “encounters” that are transformative and that activate our imagination or our empathy in order to engage with issues of social justice. We explore the practice of artists who use art to push boundaries, provoke, inspire, disorient orthodoxy, and reshape culture. In asking what the artistic project of justice is, we have only to look at the artists’ revolutionary narratives and radical forms of expression. Artists including Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ai Weiwei will discuss the nature of artwork as a catalytic cultural and sociopolitical force. Presented by Netflix. [Ticket Required]

The Stories We Couldn’t Tell Before
3:00–4:30 p.m.

The Box at The Ray, 1768 Park Ave.

Creators today have access to a much broader set of tools beyond traditional video, including VR, AR, and XR technologies. Our panelists will talk us through their own projects and explore what each of these mediums brings to the experience, including how they have changed the creative process and even the starting point for how a story should be told. Presented by YouTube VR.

Women Hold Up Half the Sky

5:30–7:30 p.m.

Kimball Art Center, 1401 Kearns Blvd.

Women hold up half the sky, as the saying goes in China. In film and entertainment, we are seeing a surge of successful women in front of and behind the camera. They are boldly blazing the path forward—for all of us—by sharing their inspiring, sometimes gut-wrenching, and empowering stories. Academy governor-at-large and executive producer of The Joy Luck Club Janet Yang will moderate a candid conversation. Presented by Asia Society Northern California, Asia Society Southern California, and Elkes Foundation.


Shouldering the Future

10:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.

Kimball Art Center, 1401 Kearns Blvd.

This panel will focus on change makers who have been moving storytelling and equity forward within the industry. Join us for an up-close conversation with filmmaking trailblazers and hear about how they transform hopes and dreams into decisive action. Presented by the Center for Asian American Media.

NALIP at Sundance

11:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.

Spur Bar & Grill, 352 Main St

Through panel sessions and networking opportunities with a special emphasis on filmmakers showcasing their work at SFF20, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers will provide a space where Latinx creatives and industry professionals can build community and offer support to one another. [Email RSVP@nalip.org to learn more and secure your spot for this year’s events.]

Editing History

2:00–5:00 p.m.

The Shop, 1167 Woodside Ave.

We’re told the future is predictable and the present is inevitable. What if what we all call history were editable? Join the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for a conversation with courageous multidisciplinary artists and scholars who are crafting more accurate, just, and inclusive narratives about the past, present, and future. Featuring Eve Ewing, Assia Boundaoui, Violeta Ayala, Aymar Jean Christian, and Gene Luen Yang. Moderated by Lauren Pabst of the MacArthur Foundation.

The Director’s Cut
3:00–4:30 p.m.

The Box at The Ray, 1768 Park Ave.

Join Color of Change, BlackStar, and the Open Society Foundations for a conversation that will explore the critical role directors can play in centralizing black experiences and aesthetics in order to challenge power and transform oppressive structures that seek to further disempower communities of color. [Credential Required]


“Us v. Them”: Narratives That Divide Society and How We Can Overcome Them
10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

The Shop, 1167 Woodside Ave.

Propaganda is on the rise. Political leaders, agents of disinformation, and alt-right activists are using new technological tools to spread dangerous narratives. Join journalist Maria Ressa; filmmaker Karim Amer (The Great Hack, Persuasion Machines); Toni Kamau (Softie), and executive director of Pop Culture Collaborative Bridgit Antoinette Evans to discuss how we can use storytelling to unite societies. Moderated by Stephen King, CEO of Luminate. [Ticket Required]

Impact Nuts (and Bolts): Marketing, Movement Building, and Meaningful Representation
Noon–2:00 p.m.
Kimball Art Center, 1401 Kearns Blvd.

We all know it—stories create impact. It’s now up to us—filmmakers, impact producers, advocates, funders, and distributors—to work together to fuel sustainable social and cultural change. Join Sue Obeidi from the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Jamie Dobie from Peace Is Loud, and Darcy Heusel from NEON for a conversation on cultural representation, movement building, and targeted film marketing. They will help us understand how these approaches to impact differ and converge through live impact workshopping of films. Moderated by Sonya Childress of Firelight Media. Presented by the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Hollywood Bureau.

Where the Truth Lies
2:00–3:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd Floor)

According to Picasso, “Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.” Join filmmakers Bill Ross and Turner Ross (Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets), Kirsten Johnson (Dick Johnson Is Dead), and Carlos López Estrada (Summertime) to explore the very different ways in which they have deployed cinematic artifice and formal experimentation to reveal deep human truths. They will be in conversation with Vox film critic Alissa Wilkinson.

Women at Sundance Celebration
2:30–4:30 p.m.
Jupiter at Newpark, 1090 Center Drive, Park City

We invite you to celebrate women and gender non-conforming artists premiering their work at the Festival, to reflect on our progress toward gender parity in media, and to coalesce our power as a community. Join us at a new date and time in our new location, Jupiter at Newpark, an expansive and inclusive space. [Invite Required]

How to Find the Right Partners for Your Film
4:30–6:00 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd Floor)

Come hear from producers and investors behind films such as Sorry to Bother You, Roxanne Roxanne, and Fruitvale Station as they share how they decided to work together. Michael Chow (co-founder of XRM), Nina Yang Bongiovi (co-founder of Significant Productions), Kevin Lin (co-founder of Twitch), and Sue Turley and Bonnie Buckner (co-heads of development and production at XRM) unpack their seven basic questions to assess whether a film is the right fit for them and take a look behind the curtain of how some of these films came together so successfully, despite all odds. Presented by XRM Media.


Planned Parenthood: Storytelling as Activism
3:00–4:30 p.m.

The Box at The Ray, 1768 Park Ave.

Many people learn about sexual and reproductive health and rights through entertainment media—that’s why authentic storytelling in film and television is more important than ever, particularly in this (divisive) moment. This panel will bring together content creators and activists (with Caren Spruch, senior director of arts and entertainment engagement for Planned Parenthood) to share how they use the power of entertainment to open hearts and minds and create change. The panel will include a screening of a new short film directed by Rayka Zehtabchi, Academy Award–winning director of Period. End of Sentence., and produced by Planned Parenthood, We Testify, and Pretty Bird Productions. Presented by Planned Parenthood.

Black, Queer, and Unapologetic: The Shifting Lens of Storytelling in Hollywood
4:30–6:00 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd Floor)

For too long, LGBTQ+ media representation was focused solely on white protagonists. Thanks to a burst of brilliant black queer talent, the tide is slowly changing. With moments like Moonlight’s Academy Award for best picture in 2017, black queer stories are now being placed front and center in Hollywood, and multihyphenate stars, including Lena Waithe, Janet Mock, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Justin Simien, and Jeremy O. Harris are creating nuanced narratives that add depth to storytelling. Presented by GLAAD.


How Can Artists Reshape Politics?
2:00–3:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd Floor)

What would it look like if artists were at the forefront of our political and civic lives? In this U.S. election year, For Freedoms—a nationwide network of artists and institutions inspired by the history of creative people convening to shape society—is designing a set of guiding principles and a new “artists’ platform” for political engagement. Join artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, with Kahlil Joseph, Elissa Blount Moorhead, and others, to help design an artist-powered future.


Power of Story: The People Speak

2:30–4:00 p.m.

Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.

Inspired by the work of the late historian Howard Zinn (A People’s History of the United States), this event brings to life, through readings and songs, the voices of rebels, dissenters, and visionaries from our past—and present. This live performance features poet Staceyann Chin, Ethan Hawke (Tesla), Viggo Mortensen (Falling), singer-songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello with guitarist Christopher Bruce, and actor and Festival juror Isabella Rossellini, with more amazing artists to be announced. Presented by Netflix. [Ticket Required]


The New Aesthetics of Disability
2:00–3:30 p.m.

Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd floor)

In The Reason I Jump, sound artist Nick Ryan explores neurodiverse experiences of sound to create acomplex audio world. Director Rodney Evans’ Vision Portraits documents how he and other blind artists create in a visual medium. Filmmakers Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht defy conventional representations of people with disabilities in Crip Camp. Discover how these artists and others are reaching for new audiences and reimagining possibilities of their forms through their own unique perspectives.

University of Utah Panel (Title TBA)

4:30–6:00 p.m.

Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd Floor)

Mental illness is a major epidemic, and low access to mental healthcare continues to cast a long shadow across the nation. Here in Utah, we’ve all held the hand of someone struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, and outdated social norms force many of them to a life of shame and silence. Local legislators, philanthropists, and University of Utah Health experts gather to discuss a transformative new model of approaching, destigmatizing, and treating mental illness. Presented by University of Utah Health.


The Feeling of Exile
2:00–3:30 p.m.

Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd Floor)

With increasing threats to freedom of expression for artists, writers, and journalists around the world, filmmakers Nanfu Wang (One Child Nation), Feras Fayyad (The Cave), and Oleg Sentsov (Gamer) have found themselves exiled from their home countries, censored, or imprisoned for their work. How have their experiences informed their art, and how has their art informed their experiences? Moderated by Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America.

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