2016 Sundance Film Festival: Event Report

Every January, tens of thousands of entertainment industry professionals, film enthusiasts, celebrities and tastemakers converge in Park City, Utah for 10 action-filled days of exhibition, networking, and celebration at the renowned Sundance Film Festival.

True to form, the 2016 Festival (January 21-January 31) brought together an all-star ensemble of Hollywood veterans, indie darlings and rising stars for an epic week and a half of premieres, panels, parties and experiences that left the media buzzing. While films remain the focal point at Sundance, over the years, brands have become increasingly aware of the power to reach influencers with buzz-worthy festival activations that help propel their name into the conversation. 

The crowded landscape and growing competition at the festival has driven brands to innovate and create entertaining and engaging experiences that draw the attention of attendees faced with a sea full of options. The creative range of experiences did not disappoint this year; here were a few of our top picks:

The Blackhouse

PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 24: Cast members attend "Birth of a Nation" panel at The Blackhouse, during Sundance 2016 on January 24, 2016 in Park City, Utah. (Photo credit: The Blackhouse Foundation)

PARK CITY, UT – JANUARY 24:
Cast members attend “Birth of a Nation” panel at The Blackhouse, during Sundance 2016 on January 24, 2016 in Park City, Utah. (Photo credit: The Blackhouse Foundation)

In 2007, The Blackhouse Foundation launched The Blackhouse pop-up at Sundance – everything from  panels and workshops to networking mixers and brunches – which served as a central hub for Black filmmakers in search of support, community, education and knowledge. 2016 marked a decade since The Blackhouse Foundation launched and it was celebrated with a jam-packed schedule of events, hosted by sponsors including Time Warner, NBCUniversal, Latino Reel, FOX, WGN America, Netflix and HBO. John Legend and Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Underground), Nate Parker and Gabrielle Union (Birth of a Nation) were just a few of the notable attendees to drop in for the star-studded lineup of panels and parties. Also spotted: Nas, Jussie Smollett, Tika Sumpter, Anthony Hamilton, who all stopped by after hours to party with celebrity DJs Erykah BaduDJ D-Nice and Vikter Duplaix, once the space transformed into a lounge where the Who’s Who in entertainment could let loose.

Rand Luxury Lounge at St. Regis Deer Valley Resort

PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 24: Actress Mary Stuart Masterson and President and CEO of Rand Luxury Bradford Rand attend Rand Luxury Hosts "As You Are" At The Luxury Lounge At The St. Regis During Sundance 2016 - 2016 Park City on January 24, 2016 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Rand Luxury)

PARK CITY, UT – JANUARY 24: Actress Mary Stuart Masterson and President and CEO of Rand Luxury Bradford Rand attend Rand Luxury Hosts “As You Are” At The Luxury Lounge At The St. Regis During Sundance 2016 – 2016 Park City on January 24, 2016 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Rand Luxury)

Each year, brands swoop in like clockwork to secure a piece of Main Street’s limited real estate in hopes of producing the most talked-about space, right in the heart of all the action. However, there is one brand committed to doing things differently: Rand Luxury, an international event-production company catering to luxury brands. Since 2013, Rand Luxury has produced VIP-only receptions and cocktail parties for some of the buzziest festival premieres – up this year; As You Are and Southside with You, which were hosted by IM Global and WME. To create an intimate and engaging experience, they set up shop at the luxurious St. Regis Deer Valley Resort, a high-end resort perched on a mountain with an enviable view. After talent and VIPs – which included Mary Stewart Masterson, Miss USA Olivia Jordan, Amandla Stenberg and Tika Sumpter – were transported to the resort in BMWs (automotive sponsor), they ascended up to the reception (via funicular), where they were greeted with a fine wine tasting with ARCANUM and the latest hand-rolled cigars from Cohiba, along with goodies, sampling and demonstrations from fellow event sponsors Trilogy, Jet Aviation, Anthony by Anthony Carmago and Seven Gables Real Estate.

Barclaycard Arrival+ Presents 364 Main

Barclaycard Arrival Presents 364 Main. (Photo credit: World Red Eye)

Barclaycard Arrival Presents 364 Main. (Photo credit: World Red Eye)

Regardless of who you are and why you’re there, attending Sundance often means the same: (cold) early days and (even colder) late nights shuffling between events, while attempting to fight through excessive crowds, intermittent hunger bouts and rapidly draining batteries. Practicality is key: simply provide a comfortable escape (with wifi and an outlet!) and the audience will come. Event production company and longtime Sundance activator, BMF Media Group, knows the drill and produced a lounge that offered just that: Barclaycard Arrival+ Presents 364 Main, a luxury travel destination sponsored by Barclaycard Arrival, It’s SO MIAMI Oasis, The Points Guy, Campbell’s Soup, V8 V-Fusion + Energy, and Chuda. The lounge hosted an exciting array of cocktail parties, interactive panel discussions, private press junkets, dinners and unique gifting experiences in three distinct spaces, which was open to select talent, media and industry movers and shakers. Kristen Stewart, Lena Dunham, Daniel Radcliffe, John Legend and Chelsea Handler were just a few of the celebs spotted ditching the cold for the lounge, where they were able to enjoy live DJ sets, touch up at the glam bar, and even customize their own soups at the Campbell’s soup station. 

4th Annual Louisiana International Film Festival Masquerade Party

PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 26: The Michael Foster Project band at the LIFF pre-Mardi Gras Masquerade pararda at Park City Live in Park City. (Photo credit: Miles Mortensen)

PARK CITY, UT – JANUARY 26: The Michael Foster Project band at the LIFF pre-Mardi Gras Masquerade pararda at Park City Live in Park City. (Photo credit: Miles Mortensen)

Since 2013, Louisiana International Film Festival has brought Park City a taste of The Big Easy, inviting festivalgoers to experience their world famous culture and talent with the annual Mardi Gras Masquerade Party. This year, the festive soiree kicked off with a parade led by the Michael Foster Project brass band, sponsored by The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge. Guests were greeted with Mardi Gras beads and masks upon arrival at the themed party and treated to delicious Louisiana cuisine (crawfish bisque, vegan gumbo, red beans and king cakes), prepared by Louisiana chefs Cody & Samantha Carroll and Chef Sean Rivera, which was presented alongside colorful signature cocktails courtesy of Donner Peltier Distillers. Over 1,300 guests – which included Boone (Sons of Anarchy), Jeryll Prescott and Chris Green (Birth of a Nation) and Frankie Jonas (Camp Rock 2) – relished in the plentiful food and libations while enjoying live performances by CC Adcock & Curley Taylor and Alexander Antebi-The Conquistador. The festivities rounded out with a live painting by Louisiana artist, T.J. Black, who auctioned off the completed artwork to support the nonprofit.

View the extended Event Report gallery here.

See you next year!

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