Media Communication Students Attend Sundance Film FestivalPublished: Jan 30, 2012
A team of nine Taylor University Media Communication students and two faculty members attended the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The group was at Sundance from January 22-29, during which they screened independent films not yet released to the general public.
Students on the trip earned three credits as a part of the class in independent film as well as participated in the Windrider Forum, a faith and film discussion group meeting throughout the festival.
Assistant Professor Kathy Bruner, who led the study trip, said, “Last year was such an amazing opportunity for our students to celebrate the spirit and art of independent film. We are blessed to return to beautiful Park City, Utah for our fifth consecutive trip.”
Throughout the week, the team kept and maintained a blog to document their journey (http://tusundance2012.wordpress.com/) with regular posts as they saw films and their reactions to the experience.
Junior Paul Yoder wrote, “In storytelling, one can call the viewer to action. Whether a film inspires you, warns you, or makes you reflect, be sure to follow up the knowledge God gives you with action. God gave us stories not so that we could sit back and nod, but so we could be that good Samaritan, so that we could welcome back our prodigal son.”
The Taylor group joined students and faculty from fellow Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) schools Biola University, Fuller Theological Seminary and Regent University along with Priddy Brothers Entertainment for a faith and film discussion group called the Windrider Forum. Windrider has been described as an “immersive educational experiment and an ongoing conversation between filmmakers and film lovers.”
The team saw films in genres such as documentary, short films and narratives. The broad range of topics and cinematic themes enabled many different discussions as the students gained exposure to the independent filmmakers’ world.
Bruner explained, “We try to choose films that offer the greatest potential for theological conversation, but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily overtly religious films. God is clearly at work in independent film, and it’s a privilege to learn more about ourselves and our world through the filmmakers’ lenses.”
Students attended class sessions each morning at the Mountain Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Park City and filled their afternoons and evenings with film screenings, filmmaker Q&As, discussions and film seminars. Each student saw fifteen or sixteen films during the week.
Bruner said, “In some ways, film is a modern pulpit and independent filmmakers are a bit like modern prophets, asking important questions about the human experience and identifying significant problems in our world. We want Taylor students to learn from great artists so that they can tell beautiful and meaningful stories in the future.”