The 2023 Sundance Film Festival has finally concluded after a whirlwind week of highly anticipated premieres, the IndieWire Studio at Sundance sessions presented by Dropbox, and of course, lavish parties.
IndieWire editors give a VIP peek of the top afterparties and private events throughout the snow-filled annual mecca for independent film, where multi-million-dollar distribution deals were being made, complete with diary entries from IndieWire’s top editors in attendance.
Films like “Fair Play,” “The Deepest Breath,” and “Run Rabbit Run” sold to Netflix while on the ground in Park City, Utah, as breakout movies like “Past Lives” and “Earth Mama” debuted at the 2023 festival already attached to A24. The acclaimed studio also snagged horror film “Talk to Me.”
IndieWire’s 2023 Sundance bible captures our film reviews and exclusive interviews with stars like Anne Hathaway (“Eileen”), Jonathan Majors (“Magazine Dreams”), Nicholas Braun (“Cat Person”), Mia Goth (“Infinity Pool”), Stephen Curry (“Underrated”), and Jennifer Connelly (“Bad Behaviour”). This was at once a return to form for the beloved festival post-pandemic, and the ushering in of a new Sundance, one that doesn’t mind breaking a few rules for the advancement of cinema.
Thankfully, IndieWire, with editors on the ground, captured all the highs of the festival. Keep scrolling for the inside scoop on parties. —Samantha Bergeson, News Editor
IndieWire’s Annual Chili Party, Presented by Stanley and SAG-AFTRA, Thursday, January 19
For years, IndieWire has hosted a fabled chili party at its condo on opening night, with hosts such as Jason Schwartzman and Craig Robinson welcoming festival-goers to Park City in an intimate setting. This year, the chili party found its footing in a more official context, partnering with SAG-AFRA and Stanley to fill out the 80-person room at The Cabin on Main Street, but the funky spirit was intact: Host Jordan Firstman, who stars in the provocative Sundance crowdpleaser “Rotting in the Sun,” worked the room and entertained the crowds with his playful recollections of how IndieWire informed his burgeoning career. Other guests at the party ranged from distributors and programmers to hopeful Sundance filmmakers like Vuk Lungulov-Klotz (“Mutt”), alumni from last year (Cooper Raiff, “Cha Cha Real Smooth”) and actors looking to raise the profile of their upcoming performances, including Ben Platt (“Theater Camp,” which sold to Searchlight for $10 million). But everyone agreed that, as usual, the real star of the show was the chili itself. The legend lives on. (Check out more photos from the Chili Party here.) —Eric Kohn, Vice President, Editorial Strategy and Executive Editor
“Judy Blume Forever” Filmmaker Dinner, Saturday, January 21
After the well-received Saturday afternoon premiere of Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok’s warm-hearted documentary “Judy Blume Forever,” the filmmakers and special guests assembled at Park City’s swanky Waldorf Astoria Hotel for an intimate celebratory dinner. While the beloved Blume herself was not in attendance, her usual brightness was reflected in the high spirits of the Amazon film’s creators and publicists, all giddy over a feature that was already earning strong word-of-mouth. Guests chatted during a cozy cocktail hour, and were soon seated at a flower-strewn table to dig into family style plates of shrimp cocktail, truffle arancini, roast chicken, fresh pasta, and a wealth of desserts (sweetness being, of course, the unofficial theme of the event). It was a joyful evening — and why shouldn’t it be? When the doc hits Prime Video this spring, it will be one of two new Blume joints: the long-awaited adaptation of her “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” is also arriving in April. The Blume-assaince is in full swing, and we’ll toast to that! —Kate Erbland, Executive Editor, Film
“Eileen” After-Party, Saturday, January 21
Following a rapturous Eccles Theater reception for William Oldroyd’s queer psychodrama “Eileen” Saturday night, festival-goers and talent gathered at the Audible speakeasy at Park City’s Kimball Terrace on Main Street for the after-party. The film’s stars Anne Hathaway and Thomasin McKenzie joined the director, plus screenwriters/real-life married partners Ottessa Moshfegh and Luke Goebel, for libations and mingling in a multi-level venue that included a rooftop bar with pop-up gazebos to shut out the cold. Notably, the custom drink menu included an “Eileeni,” which was really just a dirty martini, but an appropriate cocktail for the boozy movie set in the early 1960s. —Ryan Lattanzio, Deputy Managing Editor
First-Time Filmmakers Cocktail Party at Canada Goose Basecamp, Sunday, January 22
IndieWire has partnered with Canada Goose in the past on cast dinners as well as events celebrating women filmmakers. This time, after two years of virtual Sundance, it seemed right to honor the directors who are literally injecting new life into the film world: the first-time filmmakers. At Canada Goose Basecamp on Main Street, IndieWire hosted a cocktail party for debut filmmakers such as Sing J. Lee, Laura Moss, Alice Englert, and Chiaki Yanigimoto and Ben Braun — voices we’ll be hearing from again in the years to come. (Read more about what it was like to be at the First-Time Filmmakers Cocktail Party and see more photos here.) —Christian Blauvelt, Executive Managing Editor
A24 Party, Sunday, January 22
Now part of festival-lore, an A24 event is always a hot ticket to get into — the existence of an official Sundance party invite has never been confirmed. Mirroring their sharp brand identity and cultivation of community, this intimate, exclusive event featured stars of past, present, and future A24 films. Stars from “You Hurt My Feelings,” Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tobias Menzies and the cast of “Past Lives” celebrated their Sundance raves with A24 alums and frequent collaborators such as Lulu Wang, Ari Aster, and Christine Vachon and her Killer Films team (there with “Past Lives.”) Michael Gandolfini, featured in Aster’s upcoming A24 release “Beau is Afraid” and at the festival with “Cat Person,” was even seen working on a mutual acquisition with an unnamed “Cat Person” co-star. In line with great drinks, food and discussion, an unnamed “Past Lives” star extolled the IndieWire studio experience was by-far the best they had at the fest (shout-out to IW’s own Jim Hemphill!) The party continued onto a distant after-party location where the night raged on; this weary-traveler did not. —Jason Gonzalez, VP, Special Projects
Cinetic Party, Presented by National Geographic Documentary Films, Monday, January 23
Before I even set foot in Park City for my first Sundance, the two parties I heard about were the IndieWire Chili Party (some crazy fodder from my legacy colleagues on breaking fire codes in a condo year after year) and the Cinetic Party (wherein apparently the industry waits outside in frigid temperatures for 2 hours year after year to attend). When the time came, the IndieWire staff patiently waited outside, and only yelled “Shame on you!” at line-cutters a few times. After losing all feeling in my toes, but not a shred of energy in my bones, I entered a 3-story fun-house of tiny rooms up top and one giant dance floor on the ground where weary journalists, agents, distributions, publicists, programmers, talent (Ari Aster, Lana Wilson, we saw you) practically died dancing. I twirled with my new BFF Bella Thorne (after taking her portraits earlier that day) and the party ended in tradition: the group screaming Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” at the top of their lungs. —Vincent Perella, Social Media Manager
This Year’s IndieWire Party Diaries: Sundance is presented by Rabbit Hole Whiskey, the official bourbon of the Sundance Film Festival. Try their official Sundance cocktails, Utahlking To Me? and The Green Screen, for a taste of the festival.
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