Sundance Film Festival wraps this weekend — and is accessible for online viewing

The “Winding Path” features an Eastern Shoshone medical student as she reflects on summers spent on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
A view of Park City's Main Street during the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. (Courtesy of Sundance Institute | Photo by Stephen Speckman)

by | Jan 26, 2024 | Film & TV

Occasionally there are a few perks working in local radio. One of them this year was getting a press pass to the internationally renowned Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

Film screenings, events and discussions with filmmakers are just some of what happens as part of the official festival lineup. But a lot of the magic happens in the in-between and on the streets, including a Napoleon Dynamite flash mob celebrating the cult classic’s debut at the festival 20 years ago.

Napoleon Dynamite by Jared Hess, an official selection of the 40th Celebration Screenings at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival.

There was one film at Sundance 2024 with a Wyoming tie. “Winding Path” features Jenna Murray, an Eastern Shoshone medical student studying at the University of Utah, as she reflects on summers spent on the Wind River Indian Reservation helping her grandfather. Beautifully filmed, the film explores grief, substance abuse and connection to land.

It centers on the moment when her grandfather died from a minor heart attack that perhaps could have been treated had there been closer and better access to medical care.

Jenna Murray, a University of Utah medical student and member of the Eastern Shoshone tribe, is the subject of “Winding Path,” a documentary short film that debuted at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Jenna is photographed with her grandfather. (Courtesy of Sundance Institute. Photo by Ed David.)

“It’s almost like you have to choose between having that access and having good healthcare, and remaining on your tribal lands,” Murray said in the film.

I’ve mostly concentrated my viewings of documentaries, and my favorite film of the festival (so far) was “Agent of Happiness.” It follows a census taker working for the Bhutanese government’s Gross National Happiness Index, a measure of the country’s collective well-being. The film’s main character visits people from various walks of life — farmers, families and drag queens — in a thoughtful meditation about societal disparities and personal roadblocks.

With 153 selections (chosen from over 17,000 submissions from 32 countries) there is sure to be something for everyone. Listen above for a conversation with Rocky Mountain Community Radio’s Managing Editor Maeve Conran about the festival’s significance, not just for the filmmakers who get to have their work screened, but also for community members in the vicinity and in the broader region who get to participate in this major cultural event.

Films are available for online viewing through Sunday, Jan. 28 at festival.sundance.org

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About Emily Cohen

Emily has served as executive director of KHOL since June 2019. She has a background in ecological design and urban planning and has worked as a teacher on the US-Mexico border in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, as a policy wonk in Washington, DC and as a land use planner in Wyoming. She enjoys getting away from the operations side of radio to produce original stories about arts and culture in Jackson.

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