FTMA At Sundance

Students in Sacred Heart’s Film and Television Master’s program (FTMA) recently returned from their trip to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah the largest independent film festival in the United States. At Sundance, Sacred Heart Film and Television students got to volunteer and immerse themselves in this massive event. 

“I know everybody kind of had a little bit of a different experience. I personally was a crowd liaison, so what I did is I was in charge of making sure everybody was getting into the right film, lining them up. I met a lot of people doing that,” said first year Master of Fine Arts (MFA) student Mackenzie Caines-Balogh. 

Lots of heartwarming and impactful films were put on display during the festival. 

“I went to go see this really cool movie called Porcelain War (2024) which won the Jury Prize for Best Documentary. It was about artists who live in the Ukraine who are now soldiers in the war,” said FTMA Program Coordinator Allie O’Brien. “There was a five-minute standing ovation, not a dry eye in the house, and then the whole cast and crew a came out at the very end of the screening, and their daughters came out. It was really, really touching.” 

This festival sheds light on independent artists in the filmmaking industry who are enthusiastic to share their creativity with the world. 

Professor Sally Ross, Director of the Film and Television Graduate Program, explained what she will remember the Sundance Film Festival for. 

“It is a wonderful thing to see the passion of the filmmaking community. We saw both fiction films and documentaries that have the opportunity to change the world. The stories that we tell can have a huge impact. This festival is a reminder of that, of how powerful filmmaking can be,” said Ross. 

Once the films are shown, the creators behind them typically hold a question and answer session for the audience. 

“Most of the screenings are attended by the director and often other creative crew and actors. 

It’s really an amazing opportunity for the students to ask questions of the people who are at the top of the business and to learn from them,” said Ross. 

Students had the opportunity to meet many different people in the industry. 

“There were a lot of directors, producers, writers, and actors. Everybody was there. There were panels, and there were so many people in and out. You are constantly meeting new people and making connections. You got to know these people as well as see what they have created,” said Balogh. 

The Sundance Film Festival featured artists from around the world, which allowed students to see life from a different perspective, expanding their cultural horizons. 

“I met so many people from other countries. You just have to be very open to everything that everybody’s saying, and you’ll definitely learn how their way of life might be different than yours, and how maybe they are impacted by something that only they have experienced,” said Balogh. “I feel like just having an open mind and an open heart really makes such a difference, because there are so many people from different backgrounds within our country and outside of our country. I don’t know how else to explain it other than it’s very eye opening.”

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