Sundance offers free film festival screenings to Utah audiences in July

Many associate the Sundance Film Festival with snowy streets, but Utahns will have a chance to see free screenings, including outdoors, in July.

Many associate the Sundance Film Festival with snowy streets, but Utahns will have a chance to see free screenings, including outdoors, in July. (KSL-TV)


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SALT LAKE CITY — Many associate the Sundance Film Festival with snow-covered streets in the annual winter film festival, but Utahns will have a chance to see free film screenings — including outdoors — in July.

The Sundance Institute, a nonprofit organization that runs the festival, announced dates and venues for next month, which include traditional theaters and outdoor venues in Park City and Salt Lake County. The films are largely unreleased, giving Utah audiences a chance to see something not available elsewhere.

The films are also acclaimed, including "Didi," which won both the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award and the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Ensemble Cast at this year's festival.

A film-screening at a Utah park last summer.
A film-screening at a Utah park last summer. (Photo: KSL-TV)

"It's a series we have been doing in one form or another for 20 years," Sundance Film Festival senior programmer Basil Tsiokos said. "It's an opportunity for us to really acknowledge how much we love our Utah audience."

The films begin screening July 17 at Red Butte Garden and conclude with a legacy screening, an audience choice from the past with "20 Feet From Stardom," which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013 and later won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. It's the story of brilliant backup singers who aren't household names. It also features musicians famous enough to use just one name like Sting, Springsteen and Bowie.

While the screenings are free, they do require tickets and seats are available to reserve at Sundance.org/local-lens. It's part of the Sundance.org/sundancelocals/.

"The main goal that I have, is that we really want to show the breadth and diversity of what kinds of films we show at the festival," Tsiokos said.

"We have certain films that really lend themselves to that kind of grand presentation," Tsiokos said. He mentioned "Skywalkers: A Love Story," which kicks things off July 17 at the Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre. "That one is going to play pretty amazingly outdoors. It's got spectacle ... it's got really beautiful visuals. I think audiences are really going to enjoy it."

While the full schedule is below, Tsiokos suggests the legacy film "20 Feet from Stardom" as a one that's likely to be safe for children and has been released for a long time, allowing parents to make informed decisions about content.

A film about families, "Daughters," explores the relationships between men in the prison system and the connections they share outside, highlighted by a daddy-daughter dance in a fatherhood program.

"We are so excited to be able to return these films to Utah to take another look at them" Tsiokos said.

There is also an event for local filmmakers led by festival programmers, helping Utah film talent hone film pitching skills and approach. It features a panel that will feature Tsiokos, Sundance Film Festival Director Eugene Hernandez, writer-director Amrou Al-Kadhi, and industry producers to offer insights to Utah filmmakers in person.

The full schedule is as follows:

  • "Skywalkers: A Love Story" — Wednesday, July 17, at 9 p.m. at Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre – An outdoor screening at 2188 Red Butte Canyon Road, Salt Lake City.
  • "Daughters": Thursday, July 18, at 7 p.m. at the Ray Theatre located at 1768 Park Ave., Park City.
  • "My Old Ass": Thursday, July 18, at 9 p.m. at Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre – An outdoor screening at 2188 Red Butte Canyon Road, Salt Lake City.
  • "Your Monster": Friday, July 19, 2024, at 7 p.m. at The Ray Theatre located at 1768 Park Ave., Park City.
  • "Sugarcane": Saturday, July 20, at 5:30 p.m., at Megaplex Theatres at Valley Fair Mall, located at 3620 S. 2400 West, West Valley City.
  • "Dìdi (弟弟)": Saturday, July 20, at 8:30 p.m. at Megaplex Theatres at Valley Fair Mall, 3620 S. 2400 West, West Valley City.
  • "Eno": Saturday, July 20, at 9 p.m. City Park – Outdoor Screening at 1400 Sullivan Rd., Park City.
  • "Layla": Saturday, July 20, at 11 p.m. at Broadway Centre Cinemas, 111 E. Broadway (300 South), Salt Lake City. Writer-director Amrou Al-Kadhi will introduce the film and participate in a Q&A after the screening.
  • Artist Event — Filmmaking Deep Dive: Honing Your Pitch With Industry Insights: Saturday, July 20, at 10 a.m. at Megaplex Theatres at Valley Fair Mall, 3620 S. 2400 West, West Valley City.
  • "20 Feet from Stardom": Sunday, July 21, at 9:15 p.m. at Gallivan Center – Outdoor Screening at 239 S. Main Street Salt Lake City.

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Larry D. Curtis

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