Travel course takes students to Sundance

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Spending six days watching acclaimed independent films and speaking to talented directors seems like the ideal winter holiday. For a group of Pacific’s film students, this was their way of getting credit of the January term.

Film and Video Production professors Jennifer Hardacker and Enie Vaisburd were heads of the winter travel course that took 11 current students and two alumni to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

“I think that the whole idea of the course came from this idea of being in a living breathing space, where there’s all those storytellers, and everybody is telling a story from a different point of view, and everybody’s talking about film the whole time,” Vaisburd said. “Being immersed in that situation is really amazing.”

Vaisburd said that she and Hardacker went to Sundance on their own two years prior in order to see just how much the festival had to offer for their film students.

“We discovered that Sundance has what they call an Ignite Pass for young people between 20-25 years old that, in terms of price is incredible,” Vaisburd said. “It’s a great deal for a student.”

The Ignite Pass not only offers significant discounts for students, but also gives access to exclusive panels with directors and different opportunities to ask them questions.

“As a film major, one of the easiest ways to study is just to watch film and when you have access to these films that you know are going to be really incredible,” senior Jennifer Hofer said. “You know that they’re going to have an impact, and you have a chance to go there, and have Q&A’s with the director’s after the film, and to just talk to the people in the place that you want to get to , it’s just a really cool experience to see where everyone else it at and sort of the progression you can take to get there.”

The travel class lasted for six days at the festival, and the students were required to attend a minimum of ten films, with at least three of them being from underrepresented groups. This could include female directors, minority directors, LGBTQ directors, etc.

“We were really impressed by our students, who were willing to try anything and everything,” Hardacker said.
After the festival, the students are required to complete an essay analyzing their experience with the films and panels over the six days.

“I’ve seen students waking up at six in the morning because they needed to get to a film, and just being so focused on the experience itself, and so excited about the experience.” Vaisburd said.

The course was also open to Pacific alumni. “Having the opportunity to attend Sundance was a dream come true,” Pacific and film alumni Gavin Brown said. “It is one of those events that you hear so much about even if you aren’t actively involved within the film industry. I was really thankful for my professors to allow alumni to attend.”

The Film department is working towards the travel course being offered  to students every other year. Anyone that is interested should feel free to speak with Hardacker or Vaisburd about the prerequisite classes for the course.


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