This year, as the first exclusive audio entertainment sponsor at the Sundance Film Festival—the largest independent film festival in the US—Audible delivered a robust slate of events featuring trailblazing voices in storytelling and music.
Festival attendees, creators and industry professionals immersed themselves in our Audible Speakeasy, an inspiring space filled with interactive audio experiences where visitors could meet, mingle, and hear thought-provoking conversations about the unique opportunities audio storytelling provides. Audible also hosted morning sound baths led by sound therapist and meditation teacher Sara Auster.
Three panel discussions we co-hosted with the L.A. Times covered industry trends and the growing potential of original storytelling across genres and mediums.
The “Transcendence of Narrative” panel, with actors Colman Domingo and Tessa Thompson and writer-director Justin Simien, explored how storytelling can morph from one medium to another, the importance of giving voice to creators with new or different perspectives and the ways in which creative outlets like Audible open doors for young artists. Simien, whose horror-comedy Bad Hair premiered at Sundance, said there are more ways than ever “to tell stories literally outside of the actual box. It’s the only way a lot of us can actually get in there.” Colman, Thompson and Simien also chatted about their creative choices and how they maintain authenticity throughout their work.
During their “How We Made It” panel, filmmakers Ron Howard, Heidi Ewing and Amy Ziering and actors Rebecca Hall and Sasheer Zamata identified themes that unite great stories and discussed the practical and artistic challenges faced across genres and storytelling formats. Documentary filmmaker Ewing and Ron Howard shared experiences of making leaps across genres. Ewing talked about the challenges of switching to narrative storytelling following 20 years of documentary filmmaking, while Howard chatted about his recent foray into documentary filmmaking. Each filmmaker recalled needing to lean into their filmmaking friends and peers as they explored new genres of storytelling.
The “Music and Storytelling” panel with The Go-Go’s filmmaker Alison Ellwood, the iconic band’s lead singer Belinda Carlisle, Academy Award–winning composer Elliot Goldenthal, and writer-director Eugene Ashe focused on music’s unique storytelling lens and its potential to amplify, color and unite emotions across an audience.
Audible also held an intimate fireside chat with Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter and composer Rufus Wainwright and Kate Navin, artistic producer for Audible Theater, digging further into the marriage of music and storytelling. Wainwright’s upcoming Audible Original Road Trip Elegies: Montreal to New York follows the route he took many times with his beloved late mother, Canadian folk singer Kate McGarrigle, and represents both a physical and metaphorical journey for him, one that oscillates between the emotional poles of his divorced mother and father living in Canada and New York. Not only was creating Road Trip Elegies a cathartic experience for Wainwright, he believes listeners will benefit from hearing it. “Audible’s concept of offering music and conversation is very, very important right now. I think there’s this area in the human brain—without looking, seeing, or being assaulted by visual disturbances—that’s a really good place for humanity to be right now to reflect and discover.”