The Sundance Film Festival is the largest annual, independent film festival in America held in and around Park City, Utah. It is the ultimate gathering of original storytellers and audiences seeking new voices and fresh perspectives drawing filmmakers and movie stars from around the world.
While the festival’s main focus is on American independent filmmakers, it also features several films each year from other countries.
This year Sundance will feature a South Asian Lodge for the first time ever celebrating the 20th anniversary of Gurinder Chadha's seminal film, 'Bend It Like Beckham', which premiered at the festival in 2003. The lodge will host three days of community-focused programmes and events including panels and conversations with creatives and executives, excerpts of all the films by South Asian filmmakers that have premiered at Sundance since its formalization in 1985, dance parties, and much more.
It will also present a panel called Black and Brown Unity and Division, On and Off Screen featuring producer Lisa Cortes, director Geeta Gandhbir, Oscar-winning producer Joseph Patel and Hillman Grad CEO Rishi Rajani.
The South Asian Lodge is being developed by a non-profit organization called 1497 which was founded two years ago by producer Adeel Ahmed, actor Lipica Shah and filmmaker and attorney Kamran Khan to support South Asian representation in the entertainment industry. Its name comes from the final year before colonizers invaded the nations that comprise South Asia; the last year South Asia was free.
1497 is also collaborating with filmmakers Shruti Ganguly and Tanya Selvaratnam on this project.
“The South Asian population in America has increased nearly 40% over the last ten years, resulting in hunger for authentic representation and visibility on and behind the screen. It is wonderful to work with allies like Sundance to recognize the growing footprint of South Asian talent and celebrate them at the forefront of the industry," shared the co-founders of 1497 in a joint statement.
The lodge is a much needed space for South Asian organizers, creators and cinephiles that have always been seeking better representation of their culture and people in cinema. With panels, discussions and conversations by and around the South Asian community, it feels like a void in the entertainment industry has been filled.
The South Asian Lodge will co-exist alongside Sunrise Collective, Sundance’s pan-Asian American Pacific Islander house, and will be open to the public for networking, screenings, and chai from 10 am-10 pm January 21 & 22.
You can check the full event schedule here.