Sundance Institute Summer Series Opening Night

Photo Credit: Joe Johnson

The stars were out for Opening Night of the 2012 Sundance Institute Summer Series. Slow your roll, Paparazzi. I’m not talking about movie stars. I’m talking about the ones that lit up the night sky overhead as Under African Skies played on the outdoor screen. If you’re thinking that it sounds pretty idyllic, you’re right.

Well known for it’s annual Sundance Film Festival, the Sundance Institute, founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, is a non-profit organization that seeks to discover and support independent film and theatre artists from around the world and introduce their work to you and me. One of the ways they do this is through the annual Sundance Institute Summer Series, a collection of free, outdoor screenings of past Sundance films. This year, Canyons is lucky enough to be a host venue.

Photo Credit: Joe Johnson

The first of three films at Canyons, Under African Skies, followed Paul Simon as he returns to South Africa to explore the incredible journey of his historic Graceland album, including the political backlash he sparked while there. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not what you would call a “music buff.” While I was familiar with the Graceland album, I had no idea the huge historical impact it had. With interviews from those involved, including Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, to Oprah Winfrey, Paul McCartney, Harry Belafonte, David Byrne, and Hugh Masekela, this film held my attention from opening scene to closing credits.

Photo Credit: Joe Johnson

If free, award-winning, cinematic masterpieces are not enough to get you off the couch and to Canyons for the next screening, here’s a top five list that might change your mind:

Top 5 Reasons to Catch a Sundance Institute Summer Series Flick

1. Flip flops replace fur. Unlike the Sundance Films Festival, fur is nonexistent.
2. Bring your own booze. A nice glass of wine makes a movie that much better.
3. The price is right. Last time I checked, Sundance flicks are not normally free.
4. Microbrews and theater food (hotdogs, candy, popcorn) are available at the Umbrella Bar.
5. The brightest stars you’ll see are the ones over your head.

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