The Sundance Film Festival, held in Park City, Utah, is the premier independent film festival in the United States. This year, Sundance’s in-person event returned, and for the first time ever a group of Bethany students and profs were excited to attend! They made the trip by van, which meant a 22 hour one-way drive in every type of horrible winter weather you can imagine. Here are the attendees, which represented several classes and majors:

  • Seven students (Audra Dale, Sophia Gernander, Colin Neville, Joey Pasbrig, Tyler Pasbrig, Santiago Tenorio, Jamie Wells)
  • One alumna (Serena Omangi ’22)
  • And two professors (Ben Lundsten and Brian Klebig)

They arrived in Park City on January 22 for the Windrider Summit, which seeks to bring Christian filmmakers together to discuss their place in the film industry and the transformative power of story. Ben found out about the Summit from his connections at Asbury University, where he’s completing his MFA. Sundance and Windrider are platforms for emerging filmmakers to showcase their work, offering students numerous resources and experiences to enhance their growth as filmmakers and Christian storytellers. The very first day of the festival Bethany students met four academy award winning filmmakers including Barry Jenkins (Best Director ‘17), Ben Proudfoot (Best Documentary Short ‘21), and Rayka Zehtabchi and Sam Davis (Best Documentary Short ‘19).

This trip was an unforgettable event for the students and profs. They bonded daily over breakfast (Ben made eggs, bacon, toast, and hash browns every morning!), playlists, traveling to the summit, watching screenings, listening to discussions, and reflecting on what they learned. “John Carney’s latest film Flora and Son was a highlight for Brian and I,” said Ben. “He sat right behind us for the showing and they did an awesome Q&A with a song performance at the end.”

Though the distance and logistics required much coffee…the amazing festival experience more than made up for it! If the timing works we would love to repeat the trip in future years, so if you’re a current student interested in going to Sundance…let Ben know!