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Sundance Film Festival

Sundance Film Festival 2024

Welcome to Utah! At Sundance Film Festival, every story line should include taking care of your health. For the eighth consecutive year, University of Utah Health is proud to serve as the festival’s Official Health & Wellness Partner. From January 18-28, we extend our community to include the 100,000+ artists, creatives, industry insiders, and film lovers from around the globe, as well as the thousands of staff and volunteers who work so hard to make the magic happen.

So how do we promote health and wellness at Sundance? We train staff and volunteers on de-escalation, provide health and wellness tips for our dry, high-altitude, winter climate, and place trained professionals in sensitive films. We foster conversations with partners like Canon and discuss the importance of empowering Indigenous filmmaking with dêtetsi vo'i oninjakan Winding Path, our Short Documentary Program entry into the festival. And, of course, if anyone needs health care services while they're in Utah, we're ready with five hospitals, 12 community health centers, and hundreds more facilities, all supported by 24,000 staff and students.

Here are our highlights for Sundance Film Festival 2024:

Schedule of Events

Canon Creative Studio Panel: "Porcelain War"

Join the filmmakers of "Porcelain War" and experts from Huntsman Mental Health Institute to talk about processing trauma through art and storytelling as a salve for the war-torn soul. Friday 1/19, 2 PM @ 528 Main Street, Park City. 

More Info

Empowering Indigenous Storytelling

"Winding Path" co-director Alex Lazarowich (Cree) joins Adam Piron, director of the Sundance Indigenous Program, to discuss their work and their passion for authentic Native stories. Sunday 1/21, 6 PM @ Modern West Fine Art in SLC. 

More Info

New Narratives in Health

How can film help us bridge the gap between health systems and the communities that need better care? A panel of experts discuss the intersection between mental health and artistic representation. Monday 1/22, 4:30 PM @ Filmmaker Lodge in Park City.

More Info

Winter Wellness Tips

Here are  a few tips to help you stay healthy as you navigate through snowy streets, busy schedules, and late nights. Enjoy the festival!

Physical Wellness

1. And . . . action! While the movies will move your soul, you’re responsible for your body. Stay active between movie premieres. Do some stretching. Walk from one theatre to the next to get your blood flowing—your body will give you a standing ovation. 

2. Drink it all in. You’re at 7,000 feet of altitude, so it’s smart to stay hydrated. Start the day with water—and then drink another 8 to 10 cups of water throughout the day. 

3. Remember, you don’t have a stunt double. Take care while walking on icy sidewalks and when crossing the street. Leave the falls to the pros. 

4. Give yourself time to dream about the movies you’ve seen. Late nights are hard to avoid at Sundance Film Festival. But still try to get a solid night of sleep—seven to eight hours if you can. 

5. You are your best wardrobe department. Wear layers to adjust to the indoor and outdoor spaces. And don’t forget winter-sensible footwear to navigate the ice and snow.

Emotional Wellness

1. Applaud the artists. Take a moment to thank the artists who shared their creativity this week, along with the crews who make Sundance Film Festival an amazing experience. 

2. Utah: no CGI needed. Connect with Utah’s great nature. Take a snowshoe hike. Admire the views. Catch a snowflake. Breathe in that fresh mountain air. 

3. No second takes: these moments only happen once. Actively participate in mindful moments. Before entering a crowded theater or restaurant, engage with your senses and environment to commit to your experience. Savor your food, company, and conversations.

Social Wellness

1. Go off script. It’s easy for all of us to lose sight of attentive listening. When speaking with old friends and new colleagues, ask open-ended questions and engage in conversation. The best moments happen that way.

2. Curiosity makes a great story line. When standing in line, take the bold step of striking up a conversation with someone new. It’s a fun way to make fresh connections and learn more about your fellow attendees.

3. Take 5. Or better yet, 10. Sundance Film Festival has a way of occupying your every waking hour. Take social breaks and me-time between parties and screenings. These breaks can keep you going all week long. Grabbing a cup of coffee or a healthy snack offers a mindful moment before diving into your next scene.

How to Fest Safely

Films can make us laugh, cry, experience the joy of surprise, and escape from our own reality. But movies impact each of us differently. Here's how to keep your mental health in mind as you enjoy Sundance Film Festival 2024. 

Read More

Filmgoers in a theatre watch a movie

Mindfulness Exercises

To support festival staff, volunteers, filmmakers, and attendees during this online event, we've curated the following 10 mindfulness videos to boost well-being and help with stress management. You can also find yoga and nutrition videos for additional festival wellness.

Slow Down Racing Thoughts

How to Fight Burnout

Taking Authentic Action

Leaves on a Stream

Loving Kindness

Open Awareness


Awareness of Breath

Aimless Wandering


Sundance Film Festival 2023

After two years of a pandemic-friendly, virtual festival, we were delighted that Sundance Film Festival 2023 returned in person this January. And for the seventh year in a row, University of Utah Health was proud to be the festival’s Official Health & Wellness Partner. From January 19-29, we extended our community to include the 100,000+ artists, creatives, industry insiders, and film lovers from around the globe, as well as the thousands of staff and volunteers who work so hard to make the magic happen.

So how do we promote health and wellness at Sundance? We trained staff and volunteers on de-escalation, provided health and wellness tips for our dry, high-altitude, winter climate, and placed trained professional in potentially triggering films. We also fostered conversations with the film community about important health topics and demonstrated how powerful the art of filmmaking can be to highlight the tragedies and triumphs of modern science and medicine. And, of course, we make sure people know that if they need our health care services, we’re there for them.

Below are a few of our Sundance Film Festival 2023 highlights:

Coping with PTSD for Documentary Filmmakers

We elevated the importance of mental health and eliminating the stigma that surrounds simply asking for help.

  • Two Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmakers—Jehane Noujaim and Matthew Heineman—joined two experts from Huntsman Mental Health Institute—Mark Rapaport, MD, CEO of HMHI, and Brooks Keeshin, MD, trauma expert—to discuss PTSD at the Canon Creative House on Saturday, January 21st.
  • The hour-long panel touched on Noujaim and Heineman's harrowing tales of war-torn work and near-death experiences in Egypt, Mexico, Syria, and Afghanistan, along with the long-term effects of psychological trauma and the resources available to cope with PTSD.
  • The fascinating discussion represents another step in HMHI’s mission to stop the stigma together, bringing advances in clinical care and mental health research to communities in need.
Mark Rapaport, Matt Heineman, Jehaine Noujaim, and Brooks Keeshin talk about coping with PTSD for documentary filmmakers

New Narratives in Health Screening + Panel

We harnessed the power of science, art, and storytelling to center the health needs of historically marginalized patients.

  • “The Language of Care,” an emotional six-minute film about Deaf patients working with diabetes researchers to co-design care in American Sign Language, premiered at Filmmaker Lodge on Monday, January 23rd.
    • A thought-provoking panel followed, featuring health care providers like Michelle Litchman, PhD, FNP-BC; Murdock Henderson, PsyD; Tamiko Rafeek, one of many Deaf patients co-creating care with them; Ross Kauffman, the filmmaker who captured their emotional stories; Heather Kahlert, supporter and executive producer of the film; and many more.
  • We screened the first two films in University of Utah Health’s New Narratives in Health:
    • “Meet Me Where I Am” and “One in a Million,” with the main subjects, their families, and their health care providers taking the stage to discuss the long-lasting impacts of these films on health policy and human-centered care.
New Narratives in Health film series stars, filmmakers, and supporters gather at Filmmaker Lodge during Sundance Film Festival 2023.

Massage Therapy

We delivered wellness interventions to relieve physical and mental stress for the unsung heroes—staff and volunteers—of Sundance Film Festival.

  • Massage therapists from the L.S. Skaggs Patient Wellness Center provided more than 250 soothing chair massages.
    • Centrally located inside Festival Headquarters at the Park City Sheraton, these free 10-minute massages gave hard-working Sundance Film Festival staff, volunteers, and artists the chance to unwind and decompress before returning to their important work refreshed and rejuvenated.

Massage therapists care for Sundance Film Festival 2023 staff and volunteers

Utah Film Commission Partnership

We shared our expertise about Parkinson’s disease.

Salt Lake City Community Screening

We thanked our community.

  • We capped off our partnership with a screening of “Going Varsity in Mariachi,” which won Sundance Film Festival 2023’s Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award.
    • The joyful documentary follows a group of high school students in South Texas as they learn new instruments, navigate personal challenges, and come together as a team to compete in their ultra-competitive state championships.
    • More than 200 community leaders, state and local legislators, and U of U Health executives mingled at a pre-show reception before lining up below the Sundance Film Festival 2023 and U of U marquee at Broadway Cinemas.
University of Utah Health leaders, community stalwarts, and state legislators gather for a reception at Brick & Mortar.

Yoga Sessions with Canada Goose

We collaborated with other Sundance Film Festival partners who share our commitment to health and wellness.

  • We co-hosted restorative morning yoga and sound baths at the Canada Goose Base Camp. These sessions carved out a calming space amidst the hustle and bustle of Main Street in Park City for relaxation and intention. Rumor has it a famous actress or two even started their busy days us!
Yoga instructor leads sound bath at Canada Goose Base Camp during Sundance Film Festival 2023

Sundance Film Festival 2022

New Narratives in Health: Meet Me Where I am

Adolphus at Clinic

On Friday, January 28, University of Utah Health premiered Meet Me Where I Am, a documentary short film directed by award-winning filmmakers Ross Kauffman, André Robert Lee, and Robin Honan.

The film (which you can stream below) follows Adolphus Nickleberry (pictured above, right, with Kay McMahon, PA-C) on his journey at U of U Health's Intensive Outpatient Clinic as he rewrites his story with help from compassionate providers. Overcoming the ripples of health disparities and racism that last generations while surviving the loss of his parents and a lifetime of substance abuse, Adolphus looks to the future, relishing time spent with his family. "That's the best love in the world," he says. "It's like a gift given back to me."

Following the premiere of Meet Me Where I Am, U of U Health convened a panel discussion with the filmmakers, Adolphus, and his care team to discuss how the IOC's innovative approach to population health helped Adolphus regain his health. 

The panel, which you can stream below, features moderator and executive producer Joe Borgenicht; filmmakers Ross Kauffman, André Robert Lee, and Robin Honan; IOC providers Stacey Bank, MD, medical director of the IOC, and Christina Cackler, LCSW, clinical social worker at IOC; Richard Ferguson, MD, MBA, chief medical officer at Health Choice Utah and founder of non-profit group Black Physicians of Utah; and Patricia Aguayo, MD, MPH, medical director at Huntsman Mental Health Institute's Neurobehavior HOME and Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinics.

Bank shares highlights from the panel in a Good Notes blog published after the event.