Slamdance Film Festival and the U are Unstoppable

November 21 2022

The University of Utah Department of Film & Media Arts has a long and rich collaboration with Park City’s Slamdance Film Festival, the premier film festival “by filmmakers, for filmmakers,” dedicated to fostering a community for independent emerging artists. And this year, the relationship is getting even deeper.

A showcase for raw and innovative filmmaking, the 2023 Slamdance Film Festival will return to in-person programming with events in Park City and Salt Lake City from Jan. 20-26 and online on the Slamdance Channel from Jan. 23-29.

Along with the announcement that the 29th Slamdance Film Festival Opening Night film will be “Punk Rock Vegan Movie,” directed by Moby, Slamdance’s leadership shared the news about the new partnership with the U’s Department of & Media Arts presenting the festival’s first in-person Unstoppable Program, a showcase of new films by creators with visible and non-visible disabilities.

Launched in 2021 and founded by Juliet Romeo, Asha Chai-Chang, Gabriel Cordell, Chris Furbee, Steve Way, Peter Baxter and Taylor Miller, the Unstoppable program has been a key launching point for filmmakers with disabilities, including Doug Roland (2021) whose Unstoppable short film “Feeling Through” was nominated for an Academy Award. 

“Unstoppable is excited and grateful for this collaboration with the University of Utah because it allows for a safe space for disabled filmmakers, and an opportunity to bridge the gap between accessibility and film,” said Unstoppable programmer and co-founder Juliet Romeo. “This is a beautiful first step to creating real change in how films are made and consumed, and we are proud to be a part of it.” 

The feeling of excitement is a reciprocal.  

“We are thrilled to welcome Slamdance back to campus and to host this pathbreaking program of films,” said Andrew Patrick Nelson, Chair of the Department of Film & Media Arts. “Film & Media Arts is one of the most diverse and inclusive departments at the University of Utah, and we share Slamdance’s commitment to empowering people from all backgrounds to tell their own stories through moving images."

The lineup for the 2023 Unstoppable program includes feature films and shorts of various genres and the three-day event will include screenings, filmmaker panels, and Q&As which are all free and open to the public. The program marks a return to the University of Utah campus, which hosted Slamdance’s first ever festival in 1995, and is a testament to the successful ongoing partnership between the two organizations. Unstoppable will be presented by the Department of Film & Media Arts and held at the Student Union Theater at the University of Utah from Jan. 23-25, 2023.

“2023 represents a new era for the festival, one that integrates online and in-person events to create a more inclusive festival experience. With our in-person showcase of Unstoppable for creators with visible and non-visible disabilities and the great support of the University of Utah, we felt it was essential to create a free event for the public and make Slamdance as accessible as possible," stated Lily Yasuda, Festival Manager and Michael Morin, Festival Producer. 


Kicking off the festivities is a screening of the Opening Night film “Punk Rock Vegan Movie.” From the mind of electronic music legend Moby, the project is the musician’s directorial debut and is a passionate and stylistically idiosyncratic look at the ongoing relationship between the worlds of punk rock and animal rights. Including interviews with some of the biggest names in punk history, including Ian Mackaye, HR, Dave Navarro, Ray Cappo, Steve Ignorant, and Captain Sensible, Moby tells the story of how punk rock became such a fertile and surprising breeding ground for vegan activism. In the spirit of punk rock, Moby will be giving the film away for free following the Slamdance premiere. 

“Punk Rock Vegan Movie” was created to shine a light on the surprising and inspiring history of punk rock and animal rights, but also to remind people of the importance and desperate urgency of adopting the uncompromising ethics and actions of the original punk rock activist,” said Moby. “After it makes its world premiere at Slamdance, it's yours. It's my goal to give the movie away, as I can't in good conscience try to profit from what is essentially a labor of love and activism."

Now in its 29th year, the Slamdance film festival continues to make its mark on the industry — providing an affordable and accessible festival experience for audiences everywhere to discover emerging talent. Filmmakers who first presented their work at the festival are now amongst the biggest names in the entertainment industry. Slamdance alumni who have shown their early short films and debut features at Slamdance include Bong Joon Ho (“Parasite”), Rian Johnson (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”), Ari Aster (“Midsommar)”, Gina Prince-Bythewood (“The Old Guard”), The Russo Brothers (Avengers: Endgame”), Jon M. Chu (“Crazy Rich Asians”), Lynn Shelton (“Little Fires Everywhere”)and Christopher Nolan (“Dunkirk”). 

Slamdance 2023 tickets and passes will be available for sale on starting on Dec. 2. The online presentation of the 2023 festival can be viewed Jan. 23-29 on the Slamdance Channel. Click here to subscribe.