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Entertainment & Arts

Sundance Film Festival: A Taylor Swift doc and more day one highlights

“Taylor Swift: Miss Americana”
“Taylor Swift: Miss Americana” premieres Thursday night at the Sundance Film Festival
(Sundance Institute )

The Sundance Film Festival kicks off today in Park City, Utah — 11 days of independent filmmakers screening, paneling, dealmaking and partying in the snow. As always, multiple media companies and organizations (from CNN to the Natural Resources Defense Council) will set up shop with venues on and off the mountain town’s main drag, hosting public and private panels and parties throughout the opening weekend.

In addition to Sundance’s Cinema Café gatherings, which pick up Friday along with other festival panels, several independent venues will host stars and creators with projects from the fest and beyond. Returning to Park City are the Blackhouse at Buona Vita on Main Street, a center for black creatives and executives, launched in 2006 by Brickson Diamond; and the MACRO Lodge (at Heber and Main), the HQ of Charles D. King’s production company, which has multiple fest projects, including features “Blast Beat” and “Nine Days.”

With indie film box office declines and more movies coming into the Sundance Film Festival with distribution, the days of sky high sales could be over.

New this year is the Latinx House (136 Heber Ave.) — the brainchild of actor-producer Olga Segura, writer-producer Alexandra Martinez Kondracke and activist Mónica Ramírez — which will feature community-centered programming and host a Time’s Up event. And Outfest, which has hosted a Queer Brunch at the fest for more than 20 years, is expanding programming around that Jan. 26 event.

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Here’s the first of four daily fest previews from The Times’ film team, which will highlight the buzzy premieres and the things people will be talking about — including The Times’ two panel series, launching Friday at Chase Sapphire on Main and the Audible Speakeasy. For today, it’s all about Taylor Swift — who’ll be making an appearance to celebrate her Netflix doc “Miss Americana.”

Thursday film highlights

U.S. documentary competition title “Crip Camp” premieres simultaneously at the Eccles and the Ray at 5:30 p.m. — Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht’s film traces the disability-rights movement back to the 1970s at a New York camp for teens with disabilities (which LeBrecht attended).

Premiering at 5:30 at the MARC theatre: “Blindspotting” helmer Carlos López Estrada’s sophomore feature for the NEXT program, “Summertime,” boasting a “’Slacker’-inspired structure, fanciful form and exuberant magical realism.”

Kenneth Turan previews a standout selection of narrative and documentary films set to premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

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Academy Award–nominated doc filmmaker Heidi Ewing (“Jesus Camp,” co-directed with Rachel Grady) makes her feature directorial debut Sunday with “I Carry You With Me” — but first she and Grady will premiere the first four episodes of their Showtime documentary series at the MARC at 8:15 p.m.: “Love Fraud,” wrote The Times’ Kenneth Turan in his fest preview, examines “the depredations of a heartless lonely-hearts con man and the determination of the women who decide to take him on.”

The 9 p.m. premiere of Lana Wilson’s doc, “Taylor Swift: Miss Americana,” is the night’s hottest ticket, set for Park City’s largest venue, the 2,400-seat Eccles Theater. The film hits theaters and Netflix on Jan. 31 and promises to reveal details of Swift’s feud with Kanye West and her surprising move into politics in an intimate portrait of the 30-year-old powerhouse.

The night’s other 9 p.m. premiere, retro-horror comedy “Bad Hair” from Justin Simien at the Ray, also has Netflix ties: Simien adapted his 2014 Sundance bow, “Dear White People” (which won the special jury award for breakthrough talent), into a series for the streamer that’s heading into its fourth and final season this year. “Bad Hair” is among the more anticipated market titles at the fest.


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