“As I’ve heard the news outside Park City during our time here, I’m more convinced than ever that independent perspectives in film and documentary matter,” Sundance Institute boss Keri Putnam told the Hollywood A-lister crowd tonight early in the awards ceremony for the 2017 Sundance Film Festival in a clear salvo to the opening days of the administration of Donald Trump.
“I want to take a moment to talk about the international artists like these award winners, they are such an important part of our community,” Putnam added after announcing the Institute’s Global Filmmakers awards winners, that included Iran’s Massoud Bakhshi and her Yalda film. “I want to also take a moment to acknowledge the artists and documentary subjects from Muslim majority countries who joined us at this year’s festival to share their work,” she said at Park City’s Basin Recreation Field House to a standing ovation from the likes of Game Of Thrones star and Jury member Peter Dinklage and others at the awards show. The Sundance Institute Executive Director did not mention Trump by name but he and his recent actions to stop Muslims from coming to America was clearly the intended subject of sorts.
On the second to last day of the Robert Redford founded fest this year, the Executive Order by the 45th POTUS yesterday instituting a ban on travel to the U.S. from citizens of several predominantly Muslim countries was an elephant in the room that Putnam was not going to ignore.
“We know that closing our borders to these and other artists will stop the flow of ideas and inspiration that are so vital to the global community,” Putnam asserted to loud applause. “We stand with you and we stand with all people risking their lives for their values or seeking refuge from violence or persecution who are now denied entry to our county.”
Having already been challenged in the courts, Trump’s controversial move would see a 90-day ban on people from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen from coming to America – even those with already issued visas and green card holders. The order also bans Syrian refugees from resettling in the USA for the next 120 days and aims to eventually cut those admitted by 50% to 50,000.
In a Sundance that has seen films about the former Celebrity Apprentice host and a Women’s March on Main that drew over 8,000 anti-Trump protesters, it was inevitable that the ban would be a topic top of mind at the Jessica Williams hosted ceremony from Park City – and it was, from the top down.