Notes from Sundance 2016 Opening Weekend

 At the Artists at the Table dinner with Jon Hamm

At the Artists at the Table dinner with Jon Hamm

It’s been a great opening weekend here at Sundance 2016. (Read about my history with Sundance, whose board I chair, here.) Park City is overflowing with enthusiastic film lovers from every corner of the globe, as well as hundreds of fortunate actors, directors, producers, editors, screenwriters and production teams from the over 100 films being screened during the 10 days of the festival. There is already buzz about how some films have sold to Netflix, which has outbid the studios for these opening rounds; more to come on the inevitable market response to the films the festival's curators believe represent the best of independent cinema. 

I’ll talk to some of the artists about all that next week when opening weekend activities slow down a bit.

Last night, following the screening of a truly inspiring and entertaining documentary film about Norman Lear (Just Another Version of You by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady), about 500 patrons, supporters and festival filmmakers attended the annual Artists at the Table dinner. The goal of the dinner is to celebrate the independent artists for whom Robert Redford started the festival, and this year we were also celebrating the 10th anniversary of the festival’s New Frontier Story Lab (explore three virtual reality films from this year's festival's New Frontier lineup).

 With conservationists and filmmakers Beverly and Dereck Joubert and Robin Marrouche, Executive Director of the Kimball Arts Center, which is currently exhibiting Beverly's photography

With conservationists and filmmakers Beverly and Dereck Joubert and Robin Marrouche, Executive Director of the Kimball Arts Center, which is currently exhibiting Beverly's photography

At the Artists at the Table dinner, an artist sits at every table and this year, I hosted the actor Jon Hamm and virtual reality "godmother” Nonny de la Peña.

My friends Beverly and Dereck Joubert flew from Botswana to join us at the opening night festivities. The Jouberts are Africa’s most well-known, highly respected conservation leaders, safari lodge owners and filmmakers. Beverly's awesome photographs of the big animals she and Dereck profile and protect are being exhibited throughout the festival and at Park City's Kimball Art Center.

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