Offscreen at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival: Panels, Music and Events

Onstage: Ai Weiwei, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ron Howard, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Viggo Mortensen, Max Richter, Isabella Rossellini, Julie Taymor, Tessa Thompson, Rufus Wainwright, Carrie Mae Weems, Among Many Others

Day One Press Conference Goes All-Digital

Park City, UT – Sundance Institute will curate dozens of offscreen events, including behind-the-scenes panels on the art of filmmaking, musical performances and – around the theme of Imagined Futures – a public Bonfire and several extended post-screening conversations (known as IF Screenings), at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival taking place in Park City, Salt Lake City, and Sundance, Utah, January 23 through February 2, 2020.

“Our offscreen programming provides a powerful cultural temperature check – it is an expression of what is preoccupying artists, bot in terms of their own creativity, and also how that intersects with the issues of the day,” said John Nein, Sundance Film Festival Senior Programmer. “This year in addition to a slate of incredible performances, there is a real focus on civic engagement, data justice, disability as a creative force, and the role of art as an indispensable tool in the fight for truth-telling and justice-making. All of which ties perfectly into our theme of Imagined Futures.”

To kick off the Festival, the Institute will evolve its Day One Press Conference into a content-rich digital Day One Press Kit, including video remarks from executive leadership as well as details about the Festival and the Institute’s global year round work; this package will be distributed via email on the morning of Day One (January 23, 2020). That evening, Sundance Institute’s annual fundraising event An Artist at the Table Presented by IMDb Pro begins with the premiere of Crip Camp, followed by a celebratory dinner during which the Institute will honor Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, with the Vanguard Award for Philanthropy. Proceeds from the evening will advance Sundance Institute’s mission and programs that discover, support and amplify risk-taking and exciting independent film, media and theatre artists.

Talent Forum will convene for three days during the Festival bringing together a robust slate of artists with projects across all platforms and at varied and pivotal stages from development through completion. Now in its second year, the Forum embodies the year-round work of artist support programs across the Institute. Notes Anne Lai, the Institute’s Director of Creative Producing & Artist Support: “We’re thrilled to welcome an extraordinary collection of artists from 22 countries who bring remarkable voices and work to connect with industry, advocates, and each other as they move their work and careers forward.” A full list of participating Talent Forum projects can be found here.

The Festival wraps up with the Awards Night Ceremony & Party on February 1, 2020, with previously announced jurors awarding prizes to films in the U.S. Dramatic, U.S. Documentary, World Cinema Dramatic, World Cinema Documentary, and NEXT categories.


Friday, January 24, 2020
Crip CampIF Screening
6:00 p.m.
Grand Theatre, Salt Lake City
With film team and special guest Shandra Benito, Executive Director, Art Access, Salt Lake City.

Sunday, January 26, 2020
The AssistantIF Screening
8:15 p.m.
The MARC Theatre, Park City
With film team and special guest Ai-jen Poo, co-founder and Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Moderated by Shirley Li, The Atlantic.


Power of Story: Just Art
Saturday, January 25, 2:30 p.m.
Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.
Ticket required

Art is uniquely capable of creating public ?encounters? that are transformative and that activate our imagination and 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 revolutionary narratives and radical forms of expression.
Artists Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ai Weiwei, Julie Taymor, Kerry Washington and Carrie Mae Weems will discuss the nature of artwork as a catalytic cultural and sociopolitical force.

Presented by Netflix

Power of Story: The People Speak
Thursday, January 30, 3:00 p.m.
Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.
Ticket required

Inspired by the work of the late historianHoward Zinn (A People’s History of the United States), and on the tenth anniversary of his passing, this event brings to life, through readings and songs, the voices of rebels, dissenters, and visionaries from our past?and present.

The live performance features poet Staceyann Chin, Ethan Hawke (Tesla), singer-songwriter Celisse Henderson, Viggo Mortensen (Falling), Ntare Mbaho Guma Mwine (Farewell Amor), singer-songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello with guitarist Christopher Bruce, and Festival juror and actor Isabella Rossellini. Anthony Arnove (co-director of The People Speak with Howard Zinn) narrates.

Presented by Netflix

Mexico’s New New Wave
Friday, January 24, 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
Filmmakers Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd floor)
Open to Festival credential holders
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 [Blanco de Verano]),Fernanda Valadez (Identifying Features [Sin Señas Particulares]), Elena Fortes (Vivos), and Edher Campos (I Carry You With Me) 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.

Truth to Power
Saturday, January 25, 2:00 p.m.- 3:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd floor)
Open to Festival credential holders as space allows

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

Digital Aerosol and the Re-imaginarium: A Fireside Chat with Kahlil Joseph and Jesse Williams
Sunday, January 26, noon-1:30 p.m.
The Box at The Ray, 1768 Park Ave.
Open to the public

What does world-building look like in a society whose attention is trapped inside a matrix of digital platforms? Is there another way to engage the cloud of silicon, coltan, and liquid crystal displays? Join artist and filmmaker Kahlil Joseph (BLKNWS, The Underground Museum, collaborator with Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar) and actor and cultural critic Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy, The Advancement Project, Ebroji) in an exploration of imagination, self-determination, and entrepreneurialism that creatively tethers earthly terrain with the digital aerosol. Moderated by Charles D. King (founder and CEO of MACRO).

Under Whose AI?
Sunday, January 26, 1:30 p.m.-3:00 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd floor)
Open to Festival credential holders as space allows

Artificial intelligence “learns” from data humans generate -every click, photo, text, post, swipe, and like. Invisible data-selves shadow us, and the consequences are unknown. Pioneering media artist and filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson (The Electronic Diaries of Lynn Hershman Leeson) is joined by MIT computer scientist Joy Buolamwini, featured in Coded Bias, to explore machine learning and the future it predicts, the possibility of algorithmic justice, and ways to subvert what Buolamwini calls the “coded gaze.” In conversation with The Atlantic’s executive editor Adrienne LaFrance.


Creators’ Union – A Workshop on Content Creators Participating in the Data Economy

Monday, January 27, noon – 1:30 p.m.
The Box at The Ray, 1768 Park Ave.
Open to the public

Data is more valuable than oil. Digital platforms use storytelling content to engage audiences and then harvest their data. How can creators define terms to ensure their intentions and ethics power this growing data economy? Should their true value warrant financial participation? Join former director of monetization for Facebook Tim Kendall (The Social Dilemma), Karim Amer (Persuasion Machines, The Great Hack), producer Jess Engel, Bethany Haynes (Sloss Eckhouse LawCo), and Jesse Redniss (GM Innovation Lab, executive vice president of data strategy for WarnerMedia) as they illuminate the state of the current ecosystem and brainstorm how creators can get a seat at the table. Moderated by Roya Rastegar (PhD in history of consciousness).

Where the Truth Lies
Monday, January 27, 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd floor)
Open to Festival credential holders as space allows

According to Picasso, “Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.” Join Bill Ross and Turner Ross (Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets), Kirsten Johnson (Dick Johnson Is Dead), 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.


AI, the Archive, and Creating Human Context on the New Frontier

Tuesday, January 28, noon?1:30 p.m.
The Box at The Ray, 1768 Park Ave.
Open to the public

The human archive represents an immortal reflection of who we are and what our species has accomplished. In today’s digital reality, our archives are tapped as bottomless pools of data – the DNA that powers AI technologies. In a world of deep fakes and virtual beings, how are digital artists embracing the human archive? Join Lynn Hershman Leeson (The Electronic Diaries of Lynn Hershman Leeson), Sandra Rodriguez (Chomsky vs. Chomsky: First Encounter), and Nancy McGovern (director of digital preservation at MIT) as they explore how to retain humanity in our digital communities. Moderated by Kamal Sinclair (Guild of Future Architects).

Discovering Tomorrow
Tuesday, January 28, 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd floor)
Open to Festival credential holders as space allows

Through films like Tesla, Radioactive, The Current War, The Aeronauts, Hidden Figures, and First Man, period science is having a heyday. Practicing the science of yesteryear, their pioneering protagonists imagine the possibilities of tomorrow. From Curie to Tesla, they wrestle with competition, derision, entrenched beliefs, and discrimination. An ensemble of both scientists and filmmakers, including Ethan Hawke (Tesla), Sarah Treem, P. James Schuck and Danijela Cabric looks at the role of visionary scientists, inventors, and outliers, past and present, in advancing real science, technology, and human knowledge. Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The Movie That Blew My Mind
Tuesday, January 28, 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
The Ray Theatre, 1768 Park Ave.
Ticket required

Everybody has one-at least one. It’s that film that completely changed how you thought about movies, changed the course of your life, gave you a sense of the power of cinema, made you say, “I want to do that.” An Offscreen event and a kickoff for Sundance Institute Talent Forum, this panel features hosts John Cooper (Director, Sundance Film Festival), Tabitha Jackson (Director, Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program), Tom McCarthy, Tessa Thompson, and other special guests, each of whom has selected a cinema moment that was inspiring or formative (in their life or in shaping their creative sensibility). Supported by Hulu

How Can Artists Reshape Politics?
Wednesday, January 29, 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd floor)
Open to Festival credential holders as space allows

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 nation-wide 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. To help design an artist-powered future, join Hank Willis Thomas, Eric Gottesman and Michelle Woo of For Freedoms, artists Kahlil Joseph (BLKNWS), Elissa Blount Moorhead, and Amelia Winger-Bearskin, and the Guild of Future Architects Writers Room.


Welcome to Biodigital Theatre

Thursday, January 30, noon-1:30 p.m.
The Box at The Ray, 1768 Park Ave.
Open to the public

Game engines and immersive technologies are converging with theatre and dance in captivating and powerful ways. This year’s New Frontier lineup showcases pioneering works manifesting this important confluence, which point to new user experiences and opportunities to scale up access. Join Toby Coffey (All Kinds of Limbo; Royal National Theatre in London), Gilles Jobin (Dance Trail, VR_I), Yetunde Dada (Atomu), Theo Triantafyllidis (Anti-Gone), and Noah Nelson (publisher of No Proscenium) as they discuss this emerging world of biodigital theatre. Moderated by Sarah Ellis (director of digital development at the Royal Shakespeare Company).

Inside the TV Writers’ Room: An Interactive Experience
Thursday, January 30, 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd floor)
Open to Festival credential holders as space allows

Writing a TV series is a uniquely collaborative process that starts in the writers’ room. A team of writers will often chart out the character and story arcs for the entire series before breaking them into outlines for each individual episode. Join showrunner Graham Yost (Justified) for an interactive experience inside the collaborative writing process. This workshop reboots a classic TV series to simulate what happens behind the scenes in a writers’ room.

The Imagined Futures Bonfire
Thursday, January 30, 4:30 p.m.-sunset
Flagpole Parking Lot, 557 Swede Alley
Open to the public as space allows

Come be a part of a ritual as old as storytelling itself as our Festival and Park City communities gather around a sunset bonfire to welcome the start of a new decade and dream of our imagined futures. With remarks by Festival director John Cooper.

The New Aesthetics of Disability
Friday, January 31, 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd floor)
Open to Festival credential holders as space allows

In The Reason I Jump, sound artist Nick Ryan explores neurodiverse experiences of sound to create a complex audio world. Director Rodney Evans’s Vision Portraits documents how he and other blind artists create in a visual medium. Filmmakers Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht (Crip Camp) and Michelle Miles (How Did We Get Here?), and choreographer Alice Sheppard, defy conventional representations of disabilities through their work. Discover how these artists and others are reaching for new audiences and re-imagining the possibilities of their forms through their own unique perspectives. Moderated by Eric Hynes (Curator of Film, Museum of the Moving Image).

From Sleep
Friday, January 31, 8:00 p.m.
The Shop, 1167 Woodside Ave.
Open to Festival credential holders as space allows

Lift yourself out of the Festival’s frenetic pace for a spellbinding evening as Max Richter performs a 90-minute concert version of his eight-hour opus, Sleep, with a string quintet from New York’s American Contemporary Music Ensemble and soprano Grace Davidson. The concert will be followed by a Q&A with Richter, his creative partner and producer of Sleep Yulia Mahr, and filmmaker Natalie Johns (Max Richter’s Sleep).

The Feeling of Exile
Saturday, February 1, 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd floor)
Open to Festival credential holders as space allows

With increasing threats to freedom of expression for artists, writers, and journalists around the world, filmmakers Nanfu Wang (One Child Nation), Oleg Sentsov (Gamer), and surgeon-turned-comedian Bassem Youssef 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.

Film Church
Sunday, February 2, 10:30 a.m.-noon
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St. (2nd floor)
Open to Festival credential holders as space allows

What could be more divine than 10 days of film watching? Finish off your Sundance Film Festival experience by sharing a near-spiritual moment with Festival director John Cooper and director of programming Kim Yutani, who will offer nondenominational talks of the Festival that was. Come confess your likes and dislikes. Joining us for the sermon will be a variety of special guests, including a few filmmakers who took home awards the night before (if they can be found the morning after!). All will be forgiven.

Cinema Café

Other noteworthy conversations at the Festival include the Cinema Café daily series of informal chats, which this year will include conversations between Hillary Rodham Clinton, Zazie Beetz, St. Vincent, and Ron Howard, among others. Cinema Café events are presented in collaboration withVariety.

Ron Howard (Rebuilding Paradise)
Friday, January 24, 11:30 a.m-12:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St., second floor

Carrie Brownstein & St Vincent (The Nowhere Inn)
Saturday, January 25, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St., second floor

Hillary Rodham Clinton & Nanette Burstein (Hillary)
Sunday, January 26, 11:30 a.m-12:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St., second floor

Zazie Beetz (Nine Days), Elle Lorraine (Bad Hair) & Taylour Paige (Zola)
Tuesday, January 28, 12:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St., second floor

Radha Blank (The 40 Year Old Version) & Winston Duke (Nine Days)
Wednesday, January 29, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St., second floor

Kathreen Khavari (Embrace) &Linas Phillips (The Ride)
Thursday, January 30, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St., second floor

Haifaa Al-Mansour (The Perfect Candidate) & Bassem Youssef (The Show)
Friday, January 31, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main St., second floor


Sundance ASCAP Music Café
Friday, January 24 – Friday, January 31, 2:00 p.m.?6:00 p.m. (Doors open 1:30 p.m.)
751 Main St.
Open to Festival credential holders 21 and older as space allows
A great film is a feast for the eyes and the ears. For 22 years the Sundance Film Festival and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) have celebrated film’s marriage of sight and sound with the Sundance ASCAP Music Café, featuring eight days of performances from visionary recording artists and songwriters, all held in an intimate space at the heart of the Festival.

Stop by and we guarantee you will hear something great-whether you’re looking for the right musical collaborator for your next project or just coming in to take a break from your screening schedule-courtesy of your friends at ASCAP, home to more than 735,000 of the world’s greatest music creators. Check out the full schedule at and

Celebration of Music in Film, Presented by Southwest Airlines 
Saturday, January 25, 7:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
The Shop, 1167 Woodside Ave.
Open to Festival credential holders as space allows
Sundance Film Festival’s annual Celebration of Music in Film concert continues in its tradition honoring the power of storytelling through music and film. Hosted by Sundance Institute’s Film Music Program, the evening spotlights a headlining performance by the award-winning recording artist Rufus Wainwright, whose 9th studio album releases this spring. Critically acclaimed artist Sharon Van Etten, featured in a supporting role in the Sundance Film Festival title Never Rarely Sometimes Always, also joins the stage, as well as Sundance Institute’s Film Music Program Alumni Cuban composer Jorge Aragón Brito. Join us for an evening dedicated to the influential impact of music and film.

BMI Snowball
Tuesday, January 28, 8:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. (Doors open at 7:30 p.m.)
The Shop, 1167 Woodside Ave.
Open to Festival credential holders as space allows
BMI invites you to the 18th annual Snowball Music Showcase. This event is an intimate night of music featuring a phenomenal mixture of emerging and iconic artists.This year?s concert features an inspiring all-female roster of highly talented musicians, headlined by acclaimed GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb. Also joining the stellar line-up is California-native songstress Chloé Caroline, who will take the stage with an alt-pop acoustic set followed by Georgia Ku, the illustrious songwriter behind numerous worldwide smash hits including “Scared to Be Lonely” (DJ Martin Garrix and Dua Lipa), “So Close” (Georgia Ku & Captain Cuts), and her debut single “What Do I Do?”.

The Snowball showcase has always featured a phenomenal mixture of buzzworthy and iconic artists at the Festival. Memorable past performances have included Death Cab for Cutie, Christina Perri, Dawes, Terence Blanchard, Rita Wilson, KT Tunstall, Patty Smyth, Devo, Keb’ Mo’, Donovan, Rodriguez, Neyla Pekarek (formerly of the Lumineers), Hailey Knox, Robert Randolph, and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees Percy Sledge and Spooner Oldham. Check out the Offscreen section at for details about this year’s lineup.

For dates, times, locations and ticket information for these and other offscreen events, including panels and live music hosted by our sponsors, visit

The Sundance Film Festival
The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Sorry to Bother You, Won?t You Be My Neighbor?, Eighth Grade, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Precious, The Cove, Little Miss Sunshine, An Inconvenient Truth, Napoleon Dynamite, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Reservoir Dogs and sex, lies, and videotape. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute. 2020 Festival sponsors include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, SundanceTV, Chase Sapphire, AT&T; Leadership Sponsors – Adobe, Amazon Studios, DIRECTV, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom Group, Southwest Airlines, Stella Artois, WarnerMedia; Sustaining Sponsors – Audible, Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Dell Technologies, Fire TV, GEICO, High West Distillery, Hulu, IMDbPro, Lyft, Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Variety, The Wall Street Journal. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. Look for the Official Partner seal at their venues at the Festival

Sundance Institute
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Co//ab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance Advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as The Farewell, Late Night, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Eighth Grade, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, RBG, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Top of the Lake, Winter’s Bone, Dear White People, Little Miss Sunshine, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, State of the Union, Indecent, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.