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How to See Sundance and Slamdance Festival Movies While Being Broke

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Do you visibly blanch or freak out at the thought of paying as much as $30 for an ordinary movie screening ticket? Then attending the in-person version of the 2024 festivals (Sundance from January 18 to 28, Slamdance from January 19 to 28) might be financially out of reach, especially if you can’t afford to visit or even stay in the main venue of Park City, Utah. But don’t assume you’re totally shut out of joining in celebrating either the 40th Sundance or the 30th Slamdance Film Festival this year.   

Fortunately for the broke-ass, both festivals also have an online component. Sundance’s online screenings run from January 25 to 28. Tickets to individual feature film screenings are $25 each. What’s available will generally not include films that already have distribution deals or are close to being bought for distribution. This writer suspects the festival prefers not to have viewers wearing pirate hats (thanks, Abel Ferrara) among its online audience for these to-be-distributed films.

As an alternative, $25 is also the cost of a Short Film Pass. Sundance-selected Short Films are always worth a look (see: the Roxie Theater hosting of the 2023 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour). This pass gives unlimited access from January 25 to 28 to all the short films being shown at Sundance 2024.

Slamdance, by contrast, keeps things simple with its Virtual Pass for online screenings. $50 plus taxes and fees gives viewers unlimited online access to the festival from January 22-28. The pass purchaser can see shorts, feature films, panel discussions, or even make use of a year’s subscription to the Slamdance Channel. Such a deal!

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To help broke-ass readers get a good idea of what will be virtually available at these two festivals, here are two suggestion lists of (generally) feature films being offered by each festival this year. The curious can go further and check out such shorts as “Dicks That I Like” or “The Shell Covered Ox.”


Between The Temples–Jason Schwartzman (“Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”’s Gideon Graves) and Carol Kane (“Star Trek: Strange New Worlds”’ Commander Pelia) are the leads in this comedy owing some DNA to “Harold And Maude.”   Schwartzman plays a cantor suffering a crisis of faith.  Enter his new adult bat mitzvah student, who happens to be his former grade school music teacher (Kane).  Add into the mix Dolly de Leon (“Triangle Of Sadness”) and legendary comedy writer Robert Smigel, and you’ve got something worth checking out.

Between The Temples

Black Box Diaries–Journalist Shiori Ito is both director and central subject of this riveting documentary.  When Ito gets raped by a high-profile abuser, she decides to push for the rapist’s prosecution.  This action is a big gamble as Japan’s judicial systems and social mores happen to be painfully stacked against the victim, so Ito’s push for justice will bring down a backlash.  But Ito’s risky quest winds up turning into a landmark case bringing hope for future rape victims.  

Daughters–Meet Aubrey, Santana, Raziah, and Ja’Ana.  They’re four girls preparing for a Daddy Daughter Dance with their fathers.  The dance happens to be part of a fatherhood program run out of a Washington, D.C. jail…where the girls’ fathers are incarcerated.  These girls talk with maturity about their hopes, dreams, and disappointments in the face of having a father’s inconstant presence.  But the film’s also a reminder of the virtues of keeping family bonds strong with those incarcerated. 

Desire Lines–This hybrid of essay and narrative focuses on an LGBTQ+ archive and the Iranian American trans man who time-travels through it to understand his sexual desires.  Along the way, this film interrogates the roots of transmasculine sexuality and its social consequences.

Eternal You–Thanks to such AI software as Project December, the people left behind by a loved one’s passing will no longer be denied further talks with the deceased.  The chatbots created by this software are modeled on the deceased person’s speech patterns.  But what are the emotional and ethical implications of these startups creating software which turn primal human desires into saleable product?  

Exhibiting Forgiveness–Up and coming art star Tarell (Andre Holland) turned the events of a traumatic childhood marked by destructive parenting and child abuse into powerful paintings.  He may be on the path to success.  But what happens when Tarell’s recovering addict father makes a surprise return into his life, and desires reconciliation?   

Kneecap–Meet Liam, Naoise, and JJ.  This post-Troubles Belfast trio decides to get together to become the rap group Kneecap.  Their aim: to use their music to save their native Irish tongue.  This film, starring the real Liam, Naoise, and JJ as heightened versions of themselves, recounts the band’s origins and how it eventually became the figurehead for the “save native Irish language” movement.  

The Mother Of All Lies–What connects a filmmaker’s lack of childhood photographs with the 1981 Casablanca bread riots?  Filmmaker Asmae El Moudir will find the answer lies in making a meticulously detailed model of her neighborhood with the help of family, friends, and neighbors.  For it’s within this recreation and the many conflicting stories that arise will the truth of that long-ago violent government crackdown putting down the riots finally be confronted.

Citizen Weiner

Nocturnes–This visually trippy documentary takes viewers to the dense and dark Eastern Himalayan forests.  There, a pair of curious observers use a piece of illuminated hung canvas to attract a few hundred of the moths that live in the forest.  This setup allows the viewers to see the happenings of the moths’ world, which features behaviors unchanged by the passage of millennia.   

Ponyboi–The title is the name of a young intersex sex worker.  But Ponyboi’s Valentine’s Day is about to get a lot crazier thanks to a drug deal gone sideways, and a bunch of angry New Jersey mobsters after his hide.  Yes, our hero must return home and confront his past.  But that doesn’t mean viewers won’t have some campy and exciting fun along the way. 


All I’ve Got And Then Some–Los Angeles stand-up comedian Rasheed finally has his big break with his first paid stand-up gig.  As he’s currently homeless and living out of his car, he wants this special day to go well.  But the untimely and bizarre circus of events that befall him over the course of the day say otherwise.  Based on a true story.

The Bitcoin Car—In this quietly demented Norwegian musical, young goat farmer Gloria begins to regret letting nutty crypto investor Rita build a bitcoin mine on top of the graveyard where her parents are buried.  Is having shiny gold plating on one’s car worth either a mysterious rash of natural disturbances or whatever phenomenon can turn the corpse of a baby goat white?

Citizen Weiner—Meet Zack Weiner, a New York City actor from the Upper West Side now unemployed thanks to the COVID crisis.  With the help of friend Joe Gallagher, Zack will make a film about his running for City Council while mounting an actual City Council run.  The underdog campaign struggles to gain political traction…until some very unconventional tactics bring Weiner’s campaign a lot of public attention.

The Complex Forms–If you were financially desperate enough, would you sell your body in exchange for money?  That’s what the men who have come to an ancient villa in the deep woods have done.  But then serious second thoughts start hitting three of these men once they see the strange and ancient creatures who want their bodies. 

The Bitcoin Car

Darla In Space–Darla runs a simple pet casket business.  But her life gets thrown into disarray when she learns she has one month to settle a tax bill of $349,000.22.  Unexpected help comes in the form of Mother, a sentient kombucha scoby who’s enamored by Darla.  Mother can help raise the money Darla needs thanks to an ability to give Mind-Blowing Orgasms.  All the small business owner needs to do in return is help Mother get to space.  

The Death Tour–Want to know if you have what it takes to be a success in the pro wrestling world?  Then you need to take The Death Tour.  That’s the name for the annual winter tour taken by a group of professional wrestlers who set out from Winnipeg to travel through Northern Manitoba’s remote indigenous communities  Along the way, the participating wrestlers discover what inner strength they have when they’re “alone, exhausted, and pushed to the limit.”

Demon Mineral–Ever wonder what happens to either the Native American sacred lands that have been mined for uranium or the people who live on those extracted lands?  Find out in this documentary made over four years with the oversight and guidance of the Dine (Navajo) community.

On The Way Home–Thanks to 1993’s Abkhaz-Georgian Conflict, thousands of ethnic Georgian families were forced to flee for their lives.  They eventually found shelter in Tskaltubo’s decaying Soviet sanatoriums and patiently built existences for themselves amid the ruins.  This documentary principally follows two such residents as they wait for and hope to win the lottery for new government housing.

One Bullet–This documentary centers on the relationship of two different women in Afghanistan.  Bibi Hajji is a mother who’s lost her youngest child and who must help her remaining sons deal with their brother’s death.  Director Carol Dysinger’s fascination with the image of that child surviving an earlier bullet wound leads her to find out the boy’s fate as well as the identity of the person who shot him.

Vision Of Paradise–When you look at maps from the 15th century period when the “New World” was being explored, you’ll find a mix of actual lands and imagined countries.  This film recounts a Brazilian military expedition to locate the island of Hy-Brazil, said to be located west of Ireland and above the Fortunate Islands.  But the distance between that old expedition and the modern push to create “new worlds” in virtual reality may not be as great as viewers imagine.    

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Peter Wong

Peter Wong

I've been reviewing films for quite a few years now, principally for the online publication Beyond Chron. My search for unique cinematic experiences and genre dips have taken me everywhere from old S.F. Chinatown movie theaters showing first-run Jackie Chan movies to the chilly slopes of Park City. Movies having cat pron instantly ping my radar.