JPCatholic Undergraduates Attend Sundance Film Festival

February 10, 2020 | By Clare Schmidt

From January 23rd to February 2nd, eight JPCatholic undergraduate students attended the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. They were accompanied by President Derry Connolly and film professor Nathan Scoggins. Although this is the third time JPCatholic students have attended, it was the first time the opportunity was extended to undergraduate students.

In addition to attending numerous film screenings, the students were invited to participate in the Windrider Forum, an officially sanctioned Sundance event that brings together about 300 Christian filmmakers, media professionals, and students from across the country to partake in a dynamic learning experience and cultural dialogue of the festival. Lodging was also organized through Windrider and was provided by host families from local churches.

The Windrider Institute organized forums and panels every morning, allowing JPCatholic students to hear from and personally connect with the Christian filmmakers screening their projects at Sundance. Among these panelists was director Lee Isaac Chung, whose Korean immigrant drama Minari won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award in the festival’s US Dramatic Competition.

Dr. Connolly expressed that he was impressed by the unique experience that the institute had to offer to the students. “Windrider provided an amazing forum for having conversation, and the ability to meet people… I think just all around, it enriches every dimension of why a student is at JPCatholic.”

“Honestly, one of the things that I benefited from the most is that I had this massive encouragement that there are so many other people in the film industry that are Catholic or Christian,” said Andrew Koltunuik, a JPCatholic senior film student in attendance. “It’s just really nice to learn that there are people who are big in the industry who have faith.”

In addition to the faith aspect, students were also creatively inspired and motivated by the experience. Koltuniuk adds, “It was very beneficial in the way that I wanted to go out and make a movie after that...It refilled the ‘creative well’ all the way. Besides that, I met several filmmakers, got their contact information, and I may have a pass into an internship through this. So it has opened a lot of doors, and I’ve made several friendships that hopefully I’ll get to keep.”