By Tammy Reese
My first time covering the Sundance Film Festival in-person was everything I expected it to be. Fun, intense, inspirational, exhausting, and such an honor. Overall, the experience lived up to indeed be the experience of a lifetime. A journalist’s dream, especially mine.
To fully recap the five days I attended the iconic and historical 2023 Sundance Film Festival will take months, but I will do my best to bring you into the experience through my eyes and words. The diversity, support, and creativity that consumed this festival were so profound and gave me a joyful feeling that will last a lifetime.
The venues and theaters I visited were absolutely beautiful – such as the Variety Studio which included a Variety step-and-repeat along with Audible activations. At the Sundance Variety Studio, I enjoyed the Variety x Audible Cocktails & Conversations which was an evening of celebrating new forms of storytelling at Sundance. There was a dynamic conversation featuring Lena Waithe (Founder, Hillman Grad) and Rishi Rajani (CEO, Hillman Grad). The group of industry veterans dived into Hillman Grad and Audible’s multi-project development deal as well as both companies’ roles in championing storytellers across genres and mediums. I sat in the front row and afterward had the honor to take a photo with Lena Waithe.
Another venue I enjoyed was the Macro Lodge. The Macro Lodge was the place to be. I met and got a photo with Actress Erika Alexander (Living Single), and I was interviewed by Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions while there which you can view here.
Also, I got to listen to a panel discussion that featured the director of The Black Panther film series, Ryan Coogler. Later on, I ended up interviewing Ryan during the Stephen Curry: Underrated premiere press line. Ryan is the producer. View our interview here.
Speaking of press lines, there were so many to choose from. Additional press lines I covered were for Eileen starring Anne Hathaway, To Live and Die and Live starring Omari Hardwick, Little Richard: I Am Everything directed by NYWIFT member Lisa Cortés, Invisible Beauty produced by Lisa Cortés, and Bad Behaviour starring Jennifer Connelly.
View my interview with Jennifer here.
And check out my NYWIFT blog and podcast interview with Lisa Cortés here.
With so many events and press lines that I had to cover, it was not in my schedule to view many films, unfortunately. I did get to pre-screen Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls. It was so funny, bold, different, and well-cast. Marcus was my favorite cast member. He kept his character so on point from beginning to end.
In-person, I previewed To Live and Die and Live, which is directed by Qasim Basir and produced by Samantha Basir and NYWIFT member Dana Offenbach. Qasim Basir returns to Sundance with an exceptional actor by the name of Amin Joseph who played the role of Muhammad. The film is an emotional testament to the astonishing power community can provide in a cruel world. This was a very bold and unique film that I highly recommend everyone to watch.
I am unable to discuss these films entirely as they have not yet been released to the public.
One of my favorite interviews was with Vivica A. Fox during the Skilled red carpet premiere that she hosted. Skilled is a new documentary film from 3M that celebrates the modern skilled trade workforce through the eyes of inspiring individuals who break the mold while pursuing the careers of their dreams. The film features four trade workers — a plumber, fall protection specialist, welder, and film gaffer — at various stages in their careers, highlighting the exciting and meaningful opportunities offered within the trades. The film will be available on 3M.com/Skilled and YouTube.com/3M after the premiere event and will be released wide on VOD in Spring 2023. Please view our interview here.
The top highlights of the festival were rocking my NYWIFT hat and so many people coming up to me wanting to learn more about NYWIFT, or saying that they know someone who is a part of a WIFT chapter. NYWIFT is a name that is known at Sundance and beloved there for sure. I was so thrilled to cover the festival with one of my dearest friends, LaKisa Terrell who is now a new member of NYWIFT.
Last, but not least anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge horror fan and I love American Horror Story. I got to meet and take photos with one of my favorite actors from the show, Cody Fern, whose film Fairyland premiered at Sundance. He was casually walking down the street and took the time to chat with me before he headed to a press junket.
I can go on and on about the amazing time I had even in the cold weather, but again, it will take months!! I had a blast, and I am so grateful to be a part of a community such as NYWIFT that believes in me to get the best coverage possible while representing our brand.
Thank you to New York Women in Film & Television and Sundance for the opportunity to check off a bucket list experience that I will never forget.
Be sure to check out some of the celebrities that took the time out to give NYWIFT a shoutout here.
Congratulations to all the filmmakers, creators, and journalists that were a part of Sundance 2023!
From Tammy Reese: I had the incredible opportunity to cover the 40th edition of the Sundance Film Festival, and it was an absolute blast. From capturing the excitement on the red carpets to immersing myself in the world of independent cinema, every moment was filled with energy and anticipation. Let me take you on a recap of some of the unforgettable film premieres I had the privilege to cover. The red carpets were a spectacle in themselves, as A-list celebrities and emerging talents and filmmakers graced them with their presence. It was a surreal experience witnessing their arrivals and hearing their insights about their latest projects.READ MORE
Welcome to NYWIFT, Ruthie Marantz! Born and raised in NYC, Ruthie has been making films on public access TV since she was 13 years old. Since then, her works has been shown at BAMcinemaFest, SeriesFest and Seattle International Film Festival. She has her M.F.A. from NYU’s Graduate Film Program, where she was recipient of the Leo Rosner, Maurice Kanbar, and the Academy of Arts and Sciences Scholarships. Ruthie has directed and produced commercial work for clients including Netflix, LG, Samsung, Vice and Hearst. Her autobiographical pilot Rainbow Ruthie, which received funding from director Spike Lee, was accepted to the IFP Episodic Lab and premiered at SXSW, becoming Oscar eligible in 2019. More recently, she co-wrote the pilot to Southfield Supernovas, which won the 2020 SXSW Seriesfest Pitch-A-Thon. Read more about Ruthie’s amazing stories from set and upcoming adventures here!READ MORE
Finding your tribe is one of life’s greatest pleasures—and losing it is one of the greatest sorrows. In NYWIFT Member Amy Nicholson’s beautifully observed film Happy Campers, working-class Americans gather every summer at a seaside trailer park in Chincoteague, Virginia, to enjoy the simple pleasures of a scrappy, no-frills vacationland, and each other’s company. When a developer buys the land and reimagines the property, the inhabitants of this shabby Shangri-La wistfully eke out the joys of one last summer together as a melancholic twilight hangs in the air. Happy Campers just made its world premiere at DOC NYC, where it received a Special Mention for the Grand Jury Prize. Amy spoke to us about her unique process making this film, biggest challenges and triumphs, and the commodification of some of life’s simplest pleasures.READ MORE
NYWIFT Member Elivia Shaw is a producer and co-editor of the fascinating new documentary How to Have an American Baby, which just make its New York Premiere at DOC NYC 2023. The film is a a nuanced, behind-the-scenes look into the booming shadow economy catering to pregnant Chinese tourists who travel to America to give birth in order to obtain U.S. citizenship for their babies. Told through a series of observational vignettes, and with extraordinary access to the maternity hotel industry and their clients, the film outlines the invisible contours of the underground birth tourism industry and its unexpected actors in the U.S. and China, while probing deeply into the lives of several protagonists caught up in the phenomenon. What results is an intimate and compassionate portrait of women’s reproductive journeys, family, traditions, and capitalist desires. Shaw spoke to us about her collaboration with director Leslie Tai and the unique joys and challenges of the project.READ MORE