The 40th Sundance Film Festival will take place from January 18–28, 2024, in Utah. The Sundance Institute, which organizes the festival, is the premier nonprofit organization supporting independent filmmakers. In November 2021, Joana Vicente was named its new CEO. Joana is a CreativeFuture Leadership Committee member and a good friend.

As usual, film screenings and other festival events are scheduled at venues in Park City and Salt Lake City. This year, the festival has a new director: Eugene Hernandez, who helped to found IndieWire in 1996.

Speaking on behalf of festival organizers, Hernandez wrote, “We’re more passionate than ever about the importance of celebrating and protecting fiercely independent voices; finding, nurturing and supporting a diverse roster of art and artists; as well as spotlighting work that can entertain us while it challenges and moves us.”

Here’s everything you need to know as you prepare for Sundance 2024.


The winners of Vanguard Awards, the Visionary Award, and the first ever Sundance Institute Trailblazer Award will be honored at a 40th anniversary gala on the festival’s opening night.

The Vanguard Award for Fiction will go to Korean and Canadian American playwright-turned-filmmaker Celine Song. Song premiered her debut film, Past Lives, at Sundance in 2023. We praised it in our Thanksgiving blog and in a recent indie film roundup, so check them out to learn more about Song’s amazing work!

The Vanguard Award for Nonfiction will go to Chilean filmmaker Maite Alberdi. Alberdi has premiered two documentaries at Sundance: The Mole Agent in 2020 and The Eternal Memory in 2023. The latter film, which depicts a couple’s struggle against Alzheimer’s disease, won the Grand Jury Prize (World Cinema Documentary) in 2023.

The first ever Vanguard Award for Philanthropy will go to journalist and documentary producer Pat Mitchell. Mitchell joined Sundance’s Board of Trustees in 1995, and she chaired the Board for over 10 years. Her award-winning documentaries include Survivors of the Holocaust (1996) and Refuge (2021).

The Visionary Award will go to American actress Kristen Stewart. The short film Come Swim, which Stewart wrote and directed, was screened at Sundance in 2017. Remarkably, Stewart has acted in nine Sundance films and will add two more this year.

The first ever Sundance Institute Trailblazer Award will go to Christopher Nolan. His film Memento won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance in 2001. Since then, Nolan has created blockbusters including The Dark Night (2008), Inception (2010), Interstellar (2014), and Oppenheimer (2023).

The Juries

The members of the seven juries for 2024 have not been announced, but they are likely to include Sundance alumni and other accomplished independent filmmakers.

A separate jury oversees each of the main competition categories: U.S. Dramatic, U.S. Documentary, World Cinema Dramatic, World Cinema Documentary, and Shorts. A Grand Jury Prize is given in each of these categories.

Finally, there are separate juries for the NEXT Innovator Award and Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize.

The Films

In honor of the Sundance Film Festival’s 40th anniversary, the organizers will screen ground-breaking films from Sundance history, going back to the first festival in 1985. Meanwhile, the official lineup has 91 films, almost all of which are world premieres.

The lineup for the 40th Edition Celebration Screenings has eight films. Several will be shown after digital restoration from 35mm to 4K.

From oldest to newest, the selections are The Times of Harvey Milk (1984), Mississippi Masala (1991), Go Fish (1994), Three Seasons (1999), a newly extended cut of DIG! (2004), Napoleon Dynamite (2004), Pariah (2011), and The Babadook (2014).

Like the Sundance Film Festival itself, The Times of Harvey Milk will be celebrating its 40th anniversary. Rob Epstein’s documentary about the assassinated San Francisco supervisor won Best Documentary prizes at Sundance and the Academy Awards®.

Three other films from the celebration lineup are past Sundance winners:

  • Tony Bui’s Three Seasons won the Grand Jury Prize (Dramatic) and two other awards. It follows four characters on intersecting life paths in Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Ondi Timoner’s DIG! won the Grand Jury Prize (Documentary). It examines the conflict between two bands, The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. (Ondi is a friend of CreativeFuture. Check out our #StandCreative interview with her here!)
  • Dee Rees’ Pariah won the Excellence in Cinematography Award (Dramatic). It tells the story of a Black teenager coming to terms with her sexual identity.

As usual, competition for the official lineup was intense. Festival organizers accepted 82 feature films out of 4,410 submissions (1.86%), 8 episodic films out of 573 submissions (1.4%), and 1 New Frontier experience out of 385 submissions (2.6%). (New Frontier is a category for interactive or otherwise experimental works.)

In other words, the acceptance rate was under 3%!

Most awards will be made at the end of the festival, but the winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize was chosen in advance. It is an award for films about STEM: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

This year’s Sloan Prize winner is Sam and Andy Zuchero’s Love Me, “a love story between a satellite and a buoy.” We don’t know what that means, but we’re intrigued! The film stars Kristen Stewart and Steven Yeun, another CreativeFuture favorite.

Other titles that caught our eye include Jazmin Jones’ Seeking Mavis Beacon, a documentary about the missing Haitian star from the well-known educational typing program; Richard Linklater’s God Save Texas: Hometown Prison, an episode for a documentary series about Texas; and Christopher Jenkins’ 10 Lives, an animated film about a naughty, unstoppable cat.

Enjoy the Festival!

We hope you share our excitement for the Sundance Film Festival! Because the festival is so selective, it’s an honor for a film simply to be included.

The program for the 40th edition looks as bold and exciting as ever. Please join us in wishing good luck to all the independent filmmakers featured at Sundance 2024!