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Gaye Magazine's 2023 Sundance Film Festival Highlights

TV & Film | Exclusive

Sundance Film Festival, the biggest independent film festival in the U.S., known for inspiring audiences around the world with some of the most cutting-edge and diverse films, took place in Park City, Utah from January 19-29.

The city resembled a snow globe but was packed to the brim with filmmakers from all over the world and moviegoers alike who were thrilled to be attending the fest in person for the first time since the pandemic struck the world in 2020.

This year, the festival was a hybrid event with both in-person and online viewing options, and 111 features were shown with 64 shorts screened in theaters around Park City, Salt Lake, and the Sundance Resort.

For Gaye Magazine, it was our first year attending the festival. While it got down to 10 degrees at night, it was worth it to see incredible LGBTQ films and meet outstanding queer filmmakers and actors. On opening night the Indigo Girls performed to an inspired crowd and Lena Waithe presented the Vanguard Award for Nonfiction presented by Acura to W. Kamau Bell, and "Little Richard: I Am Everything" saw its worldwide premiere.

The next day, Gaye caught a screening of the new Little Richard documentary and attended the ACLU panel featuring Head of Film and Television for Hillman Grad Naomi Funabashi, Exec. Producer and Impact Producer for Plan C Jess Jacobs, CEO of Picture Motion Brian Walker, and ACLU's Creative Campaign Strategist Eva Lopez. The panel lead a discussion about the power of cinema and its ability to impact the world. Sunday was the 9th annual Planned Parenthood Sex, Politics, Film & TV Reception on what would’ve been the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

We chatted with the filmmakers from PLAN C, BIRTH/REBIRTH, and JUDY BLUME and learned about the incredible work that Planned Parenthood is doing through its media division working with filmmakers and others in the media space to provide education and access to information on reproductive rights and healthcare in the United States.

On Monday, we at Gaye attended the red carpet and worldwide premiere of the dark comedy "Rotting In The Sun" and got to interview the writer, director, and cast member Sebastián Silva and lead actor, comedian, and social media personality Jordan Firstman about their take on the hilarious and unapologetically queer film.

On Tuesday, we were covered the red carpet and attended the worldwide premiere of the tender drama "Mutt" which tells the story of a day in the life of a trans man in Manhattan and an exploration of his world navigating the complexities of relationships with family, friends, and his ex. The trans writer/director Vuk Lungulov-Klotz was in attendance and told us all about the making of the film and its important place in the future of queer and trans cinema.

On the final day of the festival, we waited with anticipation as Sundance announced the award winners for 2023. We were delighted to watch as multiple awards were given to some incredible LGBTQ films including:

  • The Audience Award: NEXT, Presented by Adobe was awarded to KOKOMO CITY

  • The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic, Presented by Acura was awarded to The Persian Version

  • The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to Maryam Keshavarz for The Persian Version.

  • A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Ensemble was presented to the cast of Theater Camp.

  • A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Acting was presented to Lio Mehiel for Mutt

  • A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Clarity of Vision was presented to The Stroll

Overall, it was an inspiring festival with a line-up of remarkable queer cinema that we hope everyone gets to see. We can't wait to see what next year will bring!


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