SHU at Sundance Film Festival


Staff Reporter

The Sundance Film Festival is a worldwide event and the biggest Film Festival in America, showing and launching hundreds of films since 1985.

A place where aspiring storytellers and artists are looking for new voices and perspectives. This annual festival includes it all, from short films to documentary features to emerging media of all kinds.

The Sundance Film Festival will be taking place this year in Salt Lake City from Jan. 23 to Feb. 2

The Sundance Film Festival showed one hundred and eighteen feature-length films, from twenty-seven countries and forty-four first-time feature filmmakers. These films were selected from a record high of 15,100 submissions.

Flying out from all different airports, eleven Film and Television graduate students from Sacred Heart University took their first trip to the Sundance Film Festival.

University students got the opportunity to be official volunteers at the festival to help things run smoothly. Volunteering gets you film vouchers, one for every four hours worked and seeing films as they are working.

This allowed our graduate film students to be “in the thick of things as official Film Festival volunteers,” said Prof. Sara Ross, Director of Film and Television Graduate Program.

Taking this trip helped the FTMA students become inspired by their environment. Each student met new people, went to films and expanded their visions.

From standing between the paparazzi and seeing Taylor Swift at the premiere of “Miss Americana” to going to big premier parties, the FTMA graduate students did it all.

FTMA students learned a great deal. They were already “writing new films the first night here,” said FTMA professor Todd Barnes.

FTMA graduate student Alli O’Brien said, “It was a lot of fun, and I’m really lucky to go and experience this with friends in my program and watch and learn what we love to do together.”

A short film called “He’s the One” was shown at the festival. “He’s the One” is a dark comedy about a girl who meets a guy and falls head over heels with that one person she’s supposed to hate.

“He’s the One” was O’Brien’s favorite short film, leaving her with a touched feeling on a personal level. Being able to meet and express this to the director after viewing was an opportunity in itself.

There were lots of takeaways to learn from going and checking out the competition. O’Brien’s goal is to enter one of her works at the festival next time she goes.

Barnes, who is known for having six films accepted to Sundance and for having won the Best of Next award for having the best low-budget feature in 2010, was a great addition to this trip.

Barnes knows a lot of people involved in the festival and was able to “offer invaluable guidance in navigating the ins and outs of making the most of the festival,” said Ross.

The Sundance Film Festival allowed FTMA students to engage and learn from this experience. With the goal to come back to the university and make their projects better.

O’Brien said, “The Sundance Film Festival was really motivating, making me want to change and make cuts to my movies. Learning that diversity is everything, you need a lot of different people’s perspectives to make a good movie.”

This trip brings Sacred Heart to a national profile. Goers handed out business cards and flyers all over town and got the opportunity to talk to programmers and other filmmakers.

Prof. Barnes said, “Our students are seeing what is possible, that they have the tools to compete on a national level.”


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