Miami U. student will go to third Sundance festival

Bryce Forren, a Miami University film studies major who will attend his third Sundance film festival in January 2022.
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Bryce Forren, a Miami University film studies major who will attend his third Sundance film festival in January 2022.

Credit: Submitted photo

Bryce Forren, a film studies major, plans to review Sundance films.

Films are Bryce Forren’s “favorite thing in the world,” so attending the Sundance Film Festival is akin to a child going to Disney World.

“I love movies so much,” said the Miami University junior film studies major. “My dad and I went to Sundance in 2019 and it was an incredible experience. It made me even more passionate about it.”

And he couldn’t stop talking about the trip, so his dad, John, found a way for them again to go to the largest independent film festival in the United States this January. But the small city of Park City, Utah (population of nearly 8,400) is jammed with people attending the 10-day festival. At least 122,000 people attended in 2019, according to the festival.

How his trip to Sundance was arranged takes a flow chart. He and his dad will be staying at the mother of one of John’s graduate school friends.

“That’s really the only reason we can do it,” said Forren, who is also co-majoring in business and design.

Sundance is one of the preeminent film festivals in the world, where more than 40 films are shown. It’s also the place where many of today’s household-name filmmakers gained widespread attention, like Kevin Smith, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino.

Sundance was also the place that put films like “The Blair Witch Project,” “Reservoir Dogs,” “500 Days of Summer,” “Get Out,” and “Napoleon Dynamite” on the map. Movies are often nominated for Oscars. Four of the five films nominated for “Best Documentary” at the 2010 Oscars were Sundance films. And three movies shown at Sundance in 2016 went on to receive a collective eight Oscar nominations.

This will be Forren’s third Sundance experience, but the second one in Utah. Last year’s festival was a virtual experience, “but it just wasn’t the same” as being there, he said.

Forren wants to review the films for Redhawks Radio at Miami University but hasn’t received approval yet. Also, the movies that will premier at Sundance has yet to be announced. He’ll see “whatever we’re able to get into,” but he does have an affinity for horror movies.

“Sundance and I guess film festivals, in general, are known for the weird horror stuff,” Forren said, adding that they are often “good weird.”

As a films study student, this will be a chance to see what he’s learned in class in practice.

“I spend a lot of time sitting in the classroom and learning about theory ... and Sundance feels like it’s a space where it’s a little bit of a synthesis,” he said.

There’s also a chance to watch a movie with one of the crew members that worked on it, as he did in 2019 when an editor of a film was in the viewing audience. While big-name filmmakers won’t be in the audience or walking around among the throngs of attendees, those serendipitous opportunities to meet a person who helped make the movie is a “fascinating” part of attending Sundance.

“It’s not something you’re going to get going to the theater,” he said. “It’s a whole different world.”

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