Moby’s first movie, about punk rock and veganism, to open Slamdance Film Festival

The festival, back in person for the first time since 2020, will launch a free screening program at the University of Utah.

(Slamdance Film Festival) Writer-director Ashley Eakin, seen here in her 2020 short film "Single," is among the filmmakers represented by the Slamdance Film Festival's Unstoppable program, featuring films by and about people with disabilities. The program will have its first in-person screenings, Jan. 23-26, at the University of Utah.

After three years absent, the Slamdance Film Festival — the scrappy companion to the larger Sundance Film Festival — will return to Utah, with the directing debut of a superstar music producer and a new free program at the University of Utah.

The festival will run Jan 20-26 in venues in Park City and Salt Lake City, and online at the Slamdance Channel Jan. 23-29. The festival coincides with the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, which runs Jan. 19-29 in Park City, Salt Lake City, at the Sundance Mountain Resort, and online.

The university will play host to the in-person showcase for Slamdance’s new Unstoppable program, which was introduced during the festival’s COVID-induced virtual years, festival organizers announced Tuesday. The program, running Jan. 23-26 at the U.’s Student Union Theater, highlights films made by and about people with disabilities, “visible and non-visible,” the announcement said.

Working with the University of Utah “allows for a safe space for disabled filmmakers, and an opportunity to bridge the gap between accessibility and film,” said Juliet Romeo, programmer and co-founder of the Unstoppable program. Slamdance cited the accessibility of the U. of U. campus as one reason it was chosen to host the event.

Andrew Patrick Nelson, chair of the U.’s Department of Film & Media Arts, said his department is one of “the most diverse and inclusive” at the university, “and we share Slamdance’s commitment to empowering people from all backgrounds to tell their own stories through moving images.”

Slamdance’s opening night film, set to screen Friday, Jan. 20, in Park City, is “Punk Rock Vegan Movie,” the directorial debut of the electronic music producer Moby. It’s a documentary that traces how punk rock became a fertile breeding ground for vegan activism.

According to Slamdance, Moby will give the movie away for free after the premiere, in the spirit of punk rock. “I can’t in good conscience try to profit from what is essentially a labor of love and activism,” Moby said in a statement through Slamdance.

(Slamdance Film Festival) A title card for "Punk Rock Vegan Movie," a documentary about the intersection of punk musicians and vegan activism, directed by the electronic music producer Moby. The movie is slated to open the 2023 Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, on Jan. 20, 2023.

Tickets and passes for Slamdance 2023 will go on sale starting Dec. 2, at slamdance.com.

Slamdance has been a January fixture in Park City since 1995, when it was founded by filmmakers who were rejected by Sundance, and specializes in low-budget independent films. In 2021 and 2022, festival organizers canceled in-person events in Park City, going online only with some live events in southern California.