Your Guide to All the 40th Edition Celebration Screenings and Events

One of our favorite things about the Sundance Film Festival is seeing the spark of a film catch fire in the hearts and minds of audiences around the world. To celebrate 40 years of these cinematic blazes, we’ve invited back classic works and artists from our four decades to reflect on their time at the Festival as well as the legacy of their films. 

These are once-in-a-lifetime moments that bring together everything that makes the Sundance Film Festival special: found family, innovative ideas, striking films, and a community glued to the screens and stages. Make sure to be a part of this by nabbing up a spot to these events and celebration screenings.


Napoleon Dynamite
Director and Screenwriter: Jared Hess

Since its premiere at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. Dramatic Competition almost 20 years ago, Napoleon Dynamite’s quirky humor and offbeat characters have sustained a lasting impact on pop culture, proliferating endless references in popular media and a steadfast following. The film’s brand-new restoration will debut at the upcoming Festival. The original 35mm cut negative was digitally scanned at a 4K resolution by Disney and Searchlight Pictures. All color and restoration work was also performed at 4K resolution, which was approved by the director, Jared Hess.

“Returning to Sundance with Napoleon Dynamite feels like a homecoming. When it premiered at the festival 20 years ago, we never anticipated the incredible reaction it would receive,” said Napoleon Dynamite writer-director Jared Hess. “It’s always been a very personal film for Jerusha and me, so the love affair it’s had with audiences all these years continues to delight us. To commemorate its 20th anniversary, we are thrilled to screen this newly restored version of Napoleon Dynamite. The restoration team did an amazing job bringing to life new details from the original film’s negative that we’d never seen before. We can’t wait to share it!” 

The Babadook
Director and Screenwriter: Jennifer Kent

The Babadook premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival in the Midnight section, where it was acquired by IFC Midnight. The film’s skillful exploration of motherhood and grief, coupled with its innovative approach to the psychological horror genre, earned The Babadook widespread critical acclaim and cemented a loyal following.  

“I definitely have some distance on Babadook now, after ten years. The film feels like an old friend, one that changed my life in many ways,” said The Babadook director Jennifer Kent. “Sundance was such a huge part of that change. I look forward to ‘coming home’ to the place where it all began, and to the festival that has given me and ‘Mister B’ so much.”

Mississippi Masala 

Director and Producer: Mira Nair

With an interracial relationship at its center, and Indian American filmmaker Mira Nair at its helm, Mississippi Masala explored the intersecting issues of racism, colorism, and displacement with extraordinary nuance at a time when these types of stories were scarce. The film screened in the 1992 Sundance Film Festival at the Opening Night in Park City. Mississippi Masala’s 4K digital restoration, which will screen at the upcoming Festival, was undertaken by Janus Film and the Criterion Collection and supervised by director Mira Nair and cinematographer Ed Lachman.

“Welcome to black and brown skins in the same frame, to my 30-year-old but still radical film, Mississippi Masala! We gathered movie stars from all across the world to tell this tale of Idi Amin’s expulsion of Asians from Uganda in 1972 and their prickly embrace into the Mississippi Delta. This was a movie that went missing, until I tracked the only print available to a music store in Nashville, Tennessee. The owner turned out to be a major fan and sold me back the rights of the film for one dollar,” said director Mira Nair. “What you’re about to see is a beautiful 4K restoration undertaken by Criterion and supervised by legendary cinematographer Ed Lachman and myself.”

Go Fish 

Director, Producer, and Screenwriter: Rose Troche, Screenwriter: Guinevere Turner 

Max is a young woman looking for romance. After a failed date, she discovers that some of life’s best surprises come when you don’t judge a book by its cover. Go Fish was digitally restored by the Academy Film Archive and UCLA Film & Television Archive in conjunction with Sundance Institute in 4K from the original 16mm A/B camera negatives and 35mm magnetic soundtrack. The restoration was funded by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Amazon MGM Studios, Frameline, Sundance Institute, and UCLA Film & Television Archive. To address the specific preservation risks posed to independent film, Sundance Institute partnered with the UCLA Film & Television Archive in 1997 to form the Sundance Institute Collection at UCLA and preserve independent films supported by the Institute. 

“I am so honored that these organizations have come together to restore Go Fish on the eve of its 30th anniversary,” said Go Fish director, writer, and producer Rose Troche. “The Sundance Film Festival helped launch Go Fish into the zeitgeist of Queer culture and I will be forever grateful. This restoration will allow Go Fish to live on for a new generation.” 

The Times of Harvey Milk
Director: Rob Epstein

Documenting Harvey Milk’s rise from neighborhood activist to a symbol of gay political achievement, followed by his assassination at San Francisco’s City Hall and the subsequent Dan White trial and aftermath. The film’s digital restoration, which will screen at the upcoming Festival, was completed by Janus Films and the UCLA Film & Television Archive. 

“Back in 1985, when The Times of Harvey Milk screened at the first Sundance Film Festival, Frederick Wiseman, D.A. Pennebacker, and Barbara Kopple were on the jury,” said The Times of Harvey Milk director and producer Robert Epstein. “Being in the Festival was a reward in itself, but receiving a special jury award from these legends was a young filmmaker’s dream come true. Sundance has been an important part of my life and career ever since. How great to be returning with The Times of Harvey Milk as part of the 40th edition celebration.”

Director: Ondi Timoner

Looking at the collision of art and commerce through the eyes of two dueling rock bands — The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre — over the past 27 years. DIG! XX is the 20th anniversary extended edition of the rock documentary DIG!, which adds new narration by The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Joel Gion and features 35+ minutes of never-before-seen footage.

“Twenty years ago, we had 2,500 hours of footage and a five-hour cut, so a lot of really great stuff hit the cutting room floor,” said DIG! XX director and producer Ondi Timoner. “A lot of those tapes are over a quarter-century old, so if we wanted to share more of this crazy story, it was now or never. We added an additional 35 minutes of carefully selected gems and a view inside The Brian Jonestown Massacre through a new narration by Joel Gion, the band’s tambourine player, which counterbalances the original narration by The Dandy Warhols’ frontman, Courtney Taylor. Now fans can watch the story through the eyes of both bands and follow them through to today, while reflecting back on DIG!’s impact on them and our culture.”

Director and Screenwriter: Dee Rees

When forced to choose between losing her best friend or destroying her family, a Brooklyn teenager juggles conflicting identities and endures heartbreak in a desperate search for sexual expression. 

“I’m moved and excited to be coming back to where it all began and celebrating this special anniversary with the Institute,” said Pariah director Dee Rees. “From the lab advisors, to the fellows, to the audiences, Sundance was that magically supportive and generous community that enabled Pariah to be born in the world and it’s always a joyous, heady feeling to return.”

Three Seasons
Director, Producer, and Screenwriter: Tony Bui
Although the hearts, goals, and desires are different for everyone in a culturally-shifting Ho Chi Minh City, four individuals paint a vivid picture of the past, present, and future of a city eking into a new era.

The version screening in the upcoming Festival is a new digital restoration in 4K from the original 35mm camera negative and original master 4-track stereo. “After 25 years, Three Seasons comes full circle back to Sundance where it originally premiered,” said Three Seasons director, producer, and screenwriter Tony Bui. “The long and emotional journey to restore the film isn’t just about preserving the film, but about bringing it back to life to share this timeless story of love, loss, and healing after the Vietnam War for generations to come.”


Power of Story: Four Decades of Taking Chances
Tuesday, January 23, 3–4:30 p.m.
Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.

With this conversation, we look back at the legacy of independent storytelling and the Sundance Film Festival over the course of four decades. A group of artists reflect on their work and careers, the empowering nature of risk-taking, and the importance of negotiating creative freedom. We want to talk about the past as we contemplate the future of storytelling and explore how revolutionary narrative experiences can reshape culture through artistic discovery, emerging media, and the reassertion of independence. 

Featuring: Miguel Arteta (Chuck & Buck), Richard Linklater (Boyhood), Dawn Porter (Gideon’s Army), Christine Vachon (Past Lives)

The 40th Edition Short Film Show with Mark & Jay Duplass
Tuesday, January 23, 7:30 p.m.
Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St. 

An eclectic mixtape of short films that have screened at Sundance over its four-decade history, curated by Sundance programmers and hosted by short film alums Mark and Jay Duplass. We welcome filmmakers back to celebrate their shorts as part of this surprise screening.  

Since the early days of the festival and the Rogues Gallery program of short films, throughout its almost 40 years of history, the Festival has always supported short films, providing a platform for both established and new filmmakers to connect with audiences in live action, animation and non-fiction shorts. 

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