This week, Park City, Utah, transforms into a mecca for the global film community as the annual Sundance Film Festival gets underway. Over 11 days, filmmakers get to showcase their works, make deals and hope for the start to something big. The same can be said for brand sponsors who find resonance in vision and value and who contribute to the festival at large.
Mary Sadeghy, head of corporate partnerships at the Sundance Institute, highlights that each partner runs their own events. “They help us create a festival,” she said. “[Patrons getting] to be a part of the conversation is directly connected to our sponsors.”
Here’s a snapshot of how some of the fest’s main sponsors are activating in 2019.
Acura remains the official automotive partner, bringing its 125-strong fleet of MDX’s to Park City to shuttle talent, jurors and staff. For the first time, the veteran sponsor, now in its ninth year, will team up with IMDb, owning the space while filmmaker Kevin Smith will interview actors, directors and writers. Jennifer Cody, manager of experiential marketing for Acura and American Honda, said the synergies made for the right fit. And of Sundance, Cody sees the car company’s mantra as the same. “It’s really about innovation for us—that we do things a little bit differently,” she said.
Now 10-plus years in the sponsor spotlight, Adobe brings with it the hashtag #CreateYourStory. The multimedia and creativity software provider’s goal is to demonstrate how it’s “empowering a broader range of people to tell stories and create,” said John Travis, vp of brand marketing. Among its activations on-site, Adobe will offer “Explore the Wide World of Editing Panel” and “Mentor in a Minute” videos with celebrities and artists.
In year two, AT&T launches the Hello Lounge, which will address LGBTQ content creation and representation while intersecting with AT&T Mentorship Program mentors, filmmakers and short film screenings. Tim Gibson, vp of video and application marketing for AT&T, said the telecoms company aim at Sundance is to “showcase fearless creative visionaries who go above and beyond the call of duty in filmmaking—those who continue to inspire us and shine a spotlight on underrepresented and overlooked stories in film.” AT&T returns as the festival’s official multichannel video programming distributor.
Also returning for its second year, Dell serves as the festival’s official technology sponsor, both behind-the-scenes and front-of-house. The computer technology company has its own custom venue, the Dell Den, where festival-goers get hands-on experience with systems and products designed for storytellers and professional creators, like its Ready for VR Dell Precision workstations. The space will also host panels and networking receptions.
Amanda Hodges, svp of field marketing at Dell North America, said the company recognizes the opportunity of getting its products in front of the Sundance audience of creators. “Media and entertainment is one of the industries where we see technology transforming the way people create, do business, connect and ideate what’s possible,” she said.
In its second consecutive year as a sponsor, Unity’s main showcase is the films its powering, two-thirds this year, on its real-time 3D development platform in the festival’s New Frontier section. Isabelle Riva, head of made with Unity, underscores the sense of identity that comes with augmented reality and virtual reality storytelling. “Often in the experience, you have to have a POV,” she said. “There’s a lot of themes around experiential like ‘who are you’ and ‘what’s your link to the world. It’s a really new way of telling stories.”