By Ray Pride

Sundance Institute Brings Free Summer Film Screenings to Salt Lake City, Park City, Ogden, St. George and Coalville

Park City, UT — Summer has finally arrived, which means it’s time for the return of Utah’s outdoor movie tradition, now in its 22nd year! The nonprofit Sundance Institute will once again celebrate the season and Utah’s natural beauty with free screenings of eleven Sundance Film Festival favorites, taking place in Salt Lake City, Park City, Ogden, St. George and, new this year, Coalville. The screenings will also feature special guests, fun activities, delicious food and many surprises.

“I can’t think of a better way to spend the summer than sharing these great films made by talented artists with our friends and neighbors, all while surrounded by our state’s natural beauty,” said Betsy Wallace, Managing Director and CFO of Sundance Institute. “We’re proud of our year-round partnership with the state of Utah and always look forward to this opportunity to express our appreciation for our home state and the people we share it with.”

The series starts on July 3, with a special showing of Get Out at Salt Lake City’s Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre. The Academy Award-winning film made its world premiere as a surprise screening at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival before going on to become a worldwide phenomenon. The series continues in Salt Lake with an advance screening of the 2019 Festival’s family-friendly film Abe prior to its theatrical release, before moving to Park City on July 12 with another standout from this year’s Festival, Top End Wedding. Other highlights of the series include 2018’s critically acclaimed Eighth Grade; the classic Festival favorite The Cockettes, featuring an in-person Q&A with co-directors Bill Weber and David Weissman; and the Summer Series’ first-ever screening in Coalville, with 2019’s Alfred P. Sloan Prize-winning The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. Of the ten selected films, three made their world premieres at this year’s Sundance Film Festival; eight of the ten films played in the last three Festivals. A full lineup appears below.

Back once again, by popular demand, the Utah community will be able to vote to select the final film of the series, either online at or via onsite balloting at screenings through mid-August. The nominees will be chosen from a selection of classic Festival films from women filmmakers, including Leave No Trace, The Miseducation of Cameron Post and Little Miss Sunshine.

Films start at dusk (approximately 9:00 p.m.), with gates opening and activities beginning at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted. All screenings are free and open to the public (no tickets needed) with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. Attendees are encouraged to bring picnic baskets and blankets or low-back lawn chairs to outdoor screenings.

“Each year, we look for more ways to connect people all over Utah with our work,” said LaraLee Ownby, Assistant Director of Utah Community Programs for Sundance Institute. “We’re thrilled to continue the Summer Series’ expansion this year and bring these recent Festival favorites, many directed by filmmakers from underrepresented groups, to entertain and hopefully inspire a new generation of art-lovers throughout the state.”

The Institute will again collaborate with other Utah-based organizations for the Summer Film Series, including DOCUTAH International Documentary Film Festival, the Kimball Arts Festival and Ogden Amphitheater.

Zions Bank returns as our Principal Sponsor to present this year’s screening Series, along with our Major Supporter the State of Utah and our Community Supporters Salt Lake County Economic Development Department; Peggy Bergmann; Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks (ZAP) Program; Summit County Recreation, Arts, and Parks (RAP) Tax; Salt Lake City Arts Council; Promontory Foundation; and Red Butte Garden.

For more information about Sundance Institute programming for Utah residents and to vote for the Utah Community Choice Film visit

Wednesday, July 3  ∙  Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre  ∙  Salt Lake City
Get Out
 / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Jordan Peele) — Now that Chris and Rose have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway. At first, Chris reads her family’s behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship. But as the weekend progresses, a series of disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could have never imagined. Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, Caleb Landry Jones, Lakeith Stanfield.

Sweet treats available from San Diablo Churros.

Tuesday, July 9  ∙  Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre  ∙  Salt Lake City
/ Brazil (Director: Fernando Grostein Andrade, Screenwriters: Lameece Issaq, Jacob Kader) — The Israeli Jewish side of his family calls him Avram. The Palestinian Muslim side Ibrahim. His first-generation American agnostic lawyer parents call him Abraham. But the 12-year-old kid from Brooklyn who loves food and cooking prefers, well, Abe. Just Abe. Cast: Noah Schnapp, Seu Jorge Mário da Silva, Mark Margolis, Dagmara Dominczyk, Arian Moayed, Tom Mardirosian.

Delicious meals available from Spice Kitchen in support of local entrepreneurs in our refugee community.

Friday, July 12  ∙  The Ray Theatre  ∙  Park City
Top End Wedding
 / Australia (Director: Wayne Blair, Screenwriters: Joshua Tyler, Miranda Tapsell) Lauren and Ned are engaged, they are in love, and they have just 10 days to find Lauren’s mother (who has gone AWOL somewhere in the remote far north of Australia), reunite her parents, and pull off their dream wedding. Cast: Miranda Tapsell, Gwilym Lee, Kerry Fox, Huw Higginson, Ursula Yovich, Shari Sebbens. 

Indoor screening. Venue opens at 6 p.m., screening starts at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, July 17  ∙  Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre  ∙  Salt Lake City
Eighth Grade
 / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Bo Burnham) — Thirteen-year-old Kayla endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of middle school — the end of her thus far disastrous eighth grade year — before she begins high school. Cast: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton.

Friday, July 19  ∙  Ledges Event Center  ∙  Coalville
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind / United Kingdom (Director and Screenwriter: Chiwetel Ejiofor) — Against all the odds, a 13-year-old boy in Malawi invents an unconventional way to save his family and village from famine. Based on the true story of William Kamkwamba. Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Maxwell Simba, Lily Banda, Noma Dumezweni, Aïssa Maïga, Joseph Marcell.

Summit County Power Works will be hosting a Light Swap where you can switch in your old light bulbs for energy and money-saving LED light bulbs for free! There will also be games and a raffle drawing for prizes.

Friday, July 26  ∙  City Park  ∙  Park City
 / U.S.A. (Directors: Betsy West, Julie Cohen) — An intimate portrait of an unlikely rock star: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. With unprecedented access, the filmmakers show how her early legal battles changed the world for women. Now this 84-year-old does push-ups as easily as she writes blistering dissents that have earned her the title “Notorious RBG.”

Sweet treats available from Waffle Love.

Monday, July 29  ∙  Ogden Amphitheater  ∙  Ogden
Hearts Beat Loud / U.S.A. (Director: Brett Haley, Screenwriters: Brett Haley, Marc Basch) — In Red Hook, Brooklyn, a father and daughter become an unlikely songwriting duo in the last summer before she leaves for college. Cast: Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Ted Danson, Sasha Lane, Blythe Danner, Toni Collette. 

Film preceded by a screening of the short film The Saint of Dry Creek. Shown in collaboration with Ogden Amphitheater. Venue opens at 6:30pm, screening starts at 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, July 31  ∙ Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre  ∙  Salt Lake
The Cockettes
 / U.S.A. (Directors: Bill Weber, David Weissman) — This documentary traces the rise and fall of the Cockettes, a troupe of hippies in drag famous for a notorious cabaret act in San Francisco in the 1960s and 70s.

In-person Q&A with co-directors Bill Weber and David Weissman to precede the screening.

Friday, August 2  ∙  City Park  ∙  Park City
Life, Animated
 / U.S.A. (Director: Roger Ross Williams) — Owen Suskind, an autistic boy who could not speak for years, slowly emerged from his isolation by immersing himself in Disney animated movies. Using these films as a roadmap, he reconnects with his loving family and the wider world in this emotional coming-of-age story. Shown in collaboration with Kimball Arts Festival.

Sweet treats available from San Diablo Churros.

Friday, August 9  ∙  Dolores Doré Eccles Fine Arts Center  ∙  St. George
Science Fair 
/ U.S.A. (Directors: Cristina Costantini, Darren Foster) — Nine high school students from around the globe navigate rivalries, setbacks, and of course, hormones, on their journey to compete at the international science fair. Facing off against 1,700 of the smartest, quirkiest teens from 78 different countries, only one will be named Best in Fair.

Indoor screening. Q&A with co-directors Christina Costantini and Darren Foster to follow screening. Venue opens at 6pm, screening starts at 7pm. Shown in collaboration with DOCUTAH International Documentary Film Festival.

Wednesday, August 21 ∙  Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre  ∙  Salt Lake City
Utah Community Choice Film
 — For the seventh year, Sundance Institute wants YOU to select the last film of the Summer Film Series. Through mid-August, vote onsite at screenings or at from a selection of Sundance films by female filmmakers. The winning film will be announced in late August.

Sweet treats available from Crumbl Cookies.

Sundance Institute
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Sorry to Bother You, Eighth Grade, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, RBG, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Top of the Lake, Winter’s Bone, Dear White People, Brooklyn, Little Miss Sunshine, 20 Feet From Stardom, Beasts of the Southern WildFruitvale Station, I’m Poppy, America to Me, Leimert Park, Spring AwakeningA Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon