The Power of Sundance

The Power of Sundance

Dustin Owl Johnson hails from Haslett, Michigan. He graduated from the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts with a focus on production. He has written and directed seven short films.

Date Posted: 
2012-01-10 00:00

Blog Series:

This month is the 10-year anniversary of my first experience with the Sundance Film Festival. As a senior in High school in 2002, I had the honor of being selected to participate in the Gen-Y Studio, a former program that gave young filmmakers the opportunity to share ideas, explore filmmaking and learn about new technologies at the Sundance Film Festival. With other high school students from the United States and around the world, I had the opportunity to meet with representatives from national and international media organizations and Festival filmmakers to discuss the art of filmmaking and the role of media in society. Through my participation as a young filmmaker, I realized more clearly the power of film as a medium for self-expression and positive social change not only within Native communities, but also in a global context. This experience cemented my decision to go to film school which led me to intern with Sundance and volunteer at the Directors Lab.

Now, 10 years later, I am happy to say I have been working for the Sundance Institute for 5 years and serve as the Manager of the Native American and Indigenous Program. In this role, I have the pleasure of helping organize the Native Forum at the  Sundance Film Festival and work with our Annual NativeLab where we develop projects and see them through to production. The Native Forum serves as a hub for the Native and international Indigenous film communities and highlights films made by Native and Indigenous filmmakers. This year, 11,717 Independent films from across the country and around the world were submitted to the festival. After final selections were made, these three films competed to be showcased as part of the Native Forum: Mosquita Y Mari (U.S.), The Orator (Samoa), and OK Breathe Auralee (U.S.). In addition to these films, the Native Forum will feature events to celebrate and bring together the Native community at the festival and create interactions with the larger film industry.

I'm not saying that your life will change if you attend the film festival, but I am confident you will have a good time and be inspired once you share in the power of film that Sundance helps to nurture and bring to audiences.


D. Owl Johnson,
Vision Maker Media Board Member

SAY Magazine
Native Oklahoma
Support Native Films