Visual Storytelling: An Interview with Sundance’s Joana Vicente

## Importance of Cinema and Supporting Independent Filmmakers | Joana Vicente | Qatar Economic Forum 2023

Welcome to the Qatar Economic Forum 2023, powered by Bloomberg! In this video, Joana Vicente, CEO of the Sundance Institute, sits down with Bloomberg’s Mallika Kapur to discuss the significance of cinema and the crucial role of supporting independent filmmakers.

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For over 40 years, the Sundance Institute has been dedicated to its mission of championing independent cinema. Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, the institute provides a creative space for artists to experiment, take risks, and bring their visions to life.

Throughout its evolution, the organization has expanded its offerings beyond workshops and labs, acquiring the renowned Sundance Film Festival and celebrating its 40th edition. However, it’s the labs and workshops, held at the picturesque Sundance Resort in Utah, that truly transform emerging filmmakers.

These labs serve as transformational spaces, where artists have the opportunity to collaborate with industry experts, including Hollywood advisors and Redford’s friends. Many iconic filmmakers, such as Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, and Ava DuVernay, began their careers at the labs, starting with a script or an idea that eventually led them to showcase their work at the festival.

While the Sundance Film Festival has gained recognition worldwide, it’s essential to highlight the labs’ significant role in nurturing talent and pushing boundaries. The labs offer artists a distraction-free environment, allowing them to unleash their creativity surrounded by nature.

Sundance has played a part in shaping the landscape of independent cinema, with films like “Pretty Woman” finding their roots at the festival. It’s fascinating to note that the original version of “Pretty Woman” screened at Sundance had a darker tone and lacked the happy ending we’re familiar with. Its journey from the lab to the theaters exemplifies how independent cinema can find success and resonate with diverse audiences.

In the current landscape, where streaming services dominate home entertainment, Joana discusses the challenge of bringing audiences back to cinemas. The immersive experience of watching a film in a dark room, surrounded by others sharing laughter or tears, is paramount. The pandemic has changed viewing behaviors, with people becoming accustomed to home entertainment options. To cultivate new audiences and rejuvenate traditional art house viewership, distributors are exploring strategies that prioritize theater releases before making films available online. The shared experience and simultaneous engagement hold the potential to reignite the magic of cinema.

Joana highlights the influence of streaming services on the industry, acknowledging the positive aspects of increased funding and the exposure it provides to independent filmmakers. Streamers have also played a vital role in promoting documentaries, expanding their reach and garnering wider enthusiasm. However, it’s crucial to strike a balance, appreciating the value of the theatrical experience and not relegating everything exclusively to streaming platforms.

The broad availability of content on streaming platforms emphasizes the need for discovery and the power of independent film. Independent films, often created outside the studio system and funded through alternative means, offer fresh perspectives and amplify voices that have been historically underrepresented. They provide an avenue for stories of resilience, inclusivity, and diverse experiences. The challenge lies in curating and navigating this vast landscape, where algorithms may not adequately capture the thrill of discovery.

The conversation pivots to the intersection of technology and filmmaking, where artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as ChatGPT raise concerns amongst writers. Joana acknowledges the excitement surrounding AI’s potential while acknowledging the need for regulations and authentication. As AI draws inspiration from existing material, it becomes essential to safeguard copyright and uphold the value of human creativity and originality in independent cinema.

Joana concludes by highlighting the growing diversity seen in submissions to the Sundance Festival. This year’s festival witnessed a record 16,000 submissions, of which 53% were directed by women. It signifies the progress made in inclusivity and representation within the film industry, empowering filmmakers from all walks of life to share their unique perspectives.

Join the conversation on the importance of cinema and the support needed to foster independent filmmakers by watching the full video. Don’t forget to subscribe to Bloomberg Live on YouTube for more insightful discussions and interviews.

**Source:** [Bloomberg](

**Keywords/Tags:** Joana Vicente, Mallika Kapur, cinema, independent filmmakers

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Joana Vicente, CEO of the Sundance Institute, discusses the importance of cinema and supporting independent filmmakers with Bloomberg’s Mallika Kapur at the 2023 Qatar Economic Forum, powered by Bloomberg. The government of the State of Qatar is the underwriter of the Qatar Economic Forum, powered by Bloomberg.
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