SAG-AFTRA and SAGindie made its annual sojourn to Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival from Jan. 24 to Feb. 3 in Park City, Utah. The 10-day festival, well-known as the largest independent film festival in the United States, included 112 feature-length films, 102 of which were world premieres.
As part of the festival’s Next Up series, SAG-AFTRA hosted a Champagne brunch with actor Indya Moore. She discussed gender variance and identity as well as her start in the entertainment industry and her work on FX’s original series Pose.
SAG-AFTRA also presented, in collaboration with The Blackhouse Foundation, a panel discussion about the film Clemency on Jan. 26. Moderated by SAGindie Executive Director Darrien Michele Gipson, featured panelists included the film’s actors Alfre Woodard, Wendell Pierce and Danielle Brooks, director-writer Chionye Chukwu and fellow producers. SAG-AFTRA’s partnership with Blackhouse gave staff a chance to later speak with participants in the foundation’s MFA fellowship program about the union, and to provide information about the student, short and low budget signatory processes. Clemency went on to receive the festival’s U.S. Grand Jury Prize in the dramatic film category.
SAG-AFTRA was also a sponsor for the Asian Pacific Filmmakers Experience panel on Jan. 27. Moderated by Minji Chang, the executive director of the non-profit Kollaboration, the panel was comprised of actor-filmmaker Justin Chon (Ms. Purple), filmmaker Lulu Wang (The Farewell), content creator and Insecure actor Sujata Day, Now Apocalypse actor Avan Jorgia, and Acquisitions Executive for Netflix’s Original Indies Film team Chan Phung. Conversations centered on the panelists’ careers in entertainment, representation of Asian Pacific Americans on and off-camera and ways the community can further contribute to more varied storytelling.
SAGindie’s official tradition at Sundance is to host brunches for the moviemakers and performers at the fest: the 22nd Annual SAGindie Actors Only Brunch (hosted by members Tim Daly, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Lil Rel Howery, Imani Lewis, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Wendell Pierce and Roger Guenveur Smith) and the 22nd Annual SAGindie Filmmakers Luncheon (hosted by Samantha Buck, Justin Chon, Rashaad Ernesto Green, Kyra Sedgwick and Marie Schlingmann). Both events had a combined total of 225 attendees.
In addition to the varied panels and events, SAG-AFTRA members and staff also explored the New Frontier exhibition. Over the years, this section of the festival has become known as the site of more dynamic works and installations that combine filmmaking with innovative technology. Many exhibitions this year utilized emerging technology, such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality.
This year’s Sundance Film Festival provided the union a look at the ways inclusion and technology are leading to more distinctive and varied entertainment storytelling. To hear more about highlights of this year’s festival, be on the lookout for an upcoming episode of the SAG-AFTRA Podcast.
Photo: From left, Clemency director-writer Chionye Chukwu, actors Bronwyn Cornelius and Danielle Brooks, producer Julian Cautherley, actors Wendell Pierce and Richard Gunn, SAGindie Executive Director and panel moderator Darrien Michele Gipson and producer Richard Schiff on Jan. 26. (Photo by: Alex Gallivan/SAG-AFTRA)