Changing the World Through Film

By Elizabeth Latenser
Photo: A film still from 
Chasing Coral in Sundance Institute’s ‘New Climate’ Initiative. Photo courtesy of: XL Catlin Seaview Survey

This is part of an ongoing series featuring iconic projects filmed in Utah.  Projects and artists mentioned in the series filmed here for inspiration, a strong sense of place or to recreate otherworldly experiences.

This Thursday the Sundance Film Festival will kick off with 4 films from different categories as it has done for many years.  But what is new this year is that one filmAn Inconvenient Sequel is part of a newly created initiative to highlight issues relating to climate change.  It marks the first time the Festival has focused their efforts to highlight a specific cause.

Utah has long been known for its pristine landscapes.  The tourism and film industries benefit greatly from its unique ecosystems: the fresh snow-capped mountain scapes to the rushing river waters to the Mars-like red rock formations of southern Utah. We’re proud that Sundance Institute has chosen to continue to encourage discussion and dialogue about how best to protect the wild places around us.  

When asked why they added this new climate focus, Trevor Groth, director of programming told the New York Times: “To change the world.”  And John Cooper, the director of the Sundance Film Festival added “or die trying.”

Founder and President of Sundance Institute, Robert Redford has long stated that the Festival is a platform for discussion and it’s important that they stay neutral on political issues.  Though this issue of environmental protection is a threat much too great to ignore.  He said:

“I believe that storytelling is the greatest platform for getting people to care and take action on some of the most pressing issues of our time. Amid escalating threats to our environment, independent perspectives are adding the depth and dimension needed for us to find common ground and real solutions.”

The New Climate initiative includes 14 documentaries, short films and virtual reality experiences across the Festival’s categories, and marks the first time that Festival programmers have focused efforts to highlight a specific cause.  To see the full lineup of New Climate films and projects here.

Many of these releases are greatly anticipated by nature lovers and film lovers alike.  If anyone needs a needs a boost to get through the next few days before the Festival starts, check out the 2016 Sundance Film Festival’s 10 Days of Different video to prepare for the innovation and artistry you can experience very soon.

To see our list of films shot in Utah and marvel at the sheer diversity of Utah landscapes featured:

Contributing writer Elizabeth Latenser is a film fan, mountain momma, dog lover and tree hugger.