I was supposed to be boarding a plane to Park City, Utah this week to attend my first Sundance. When the news broke in early January that the festival was going all virtual due to the omicron surge, I quickly reimagined my home office as a screening room and explained to my two little boys that, while Mommy would be home instead of away, she would be holed up with her computer, watching movies, alone. Ever adaptable, they shrugged it off and went back to playing ‘The floor is lava.’

But I’m not alone. Yesterday’s opening night premiere of THE PRINCESS was virtually shared across the globe, drawing in an audience curious and ready to engage with compelling and impactful stories. I shared texts, slacks, and stories to connect with others equally moved by this film. Today, I will watch four more documentaries, including Eva Longoria Bastón’s directorial debut, LA GUERRA CIVIL and NOTHING COMPARES, a documentary focused on Sinéad O’Connor’s rapid rise to fame. I will also attend a panel about the critical role editors play in the filmmaking process hosted by Brown Girls Doc Mafia. The next several days will follow the same pattern: a robust schedule of films, opportunities to learn and connect, and playful exchanges with others immersed in the festival. 

Post-festival, we will feature an interview with newportFILM’s Artistic Director and Programmer, Andrea van Beuren on her takeaways. Building a strong 2022 newportFILM program begins with Sundance and I am wildly grateful to the versatile and capable team at the festival for enabling a rich and vibrant experience, despite ongoing challenges. Based on the incredible documentaries premiering, we have a stellar summer ahead in Newport! 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to my “screening room.”