The annual film festival has transformed into a place where artists of all forms are displaying their work and getting inspiration.

This article is presented in partnership with 1MSQFT, a traveling survey of culture seeking to provide one million square feet of space for curation and celebration. From fashion and film to art and food, PSFK is joining the 1MSQFT initiative to share the unexpected stories of culture across creative disciplines. For more, visit and follow the culture study on Instagram  or on Twitter @1MSQFT.

In 1978 when the Sundance Film Festival was founded by Sterling Van Wagenen, then head of Robert Redford’s production company, the goal was to showcase American movies, highlight the potential of independent film, and increase the visibility of filmmaking in Utah. Today the festival is one of the largest independent film festivals in the United States, screening 186 films this year alone, 54 of which come from first-time feature filmmakers.

Yet even with its passion and commitment to providing a platform for independent filmmakers to showcase their work, Sundance is also dedicated to redrawing the boundaries of the film industry in order to accommodate innovative models of distribution, new genres, and most interestingly, to create a forum for multidisciplinary artists to collaborate and share their work as well as gain inspiration from exposure to other mediums.

Getting the innovative independent films that are screened at Sundance out to the larger public is an important goal for the festival. The Sundance Film Festival YouTube channel will host a version of the festival’s Short Film Program, where 15 shorts will be aired from the 16 to 24 of January. This digital channel exposes a wider audience to up-and-coming artists and experimental works, helping solidify the festival’s relevance with a future generation of film buffs, while acknowledging that the way that most people consume video content has evolved far beyond the current model of industry distribution.

In an interview with the New York Times, Robert Redford, President and Founder of the Sundance Institute, further supported this forward-looking vision, saying: “We pick films that might not ever have the chance to be seen elsewhere. Sundance is about giving chances to diverse voices.” Sharing the content and vision from the festival with a wider audience of enthusiasts is not only confined to a single week in January. The festival has created ongoing initiatives to provide an environment that encourages innovation and creative risk-taking, solidifying Sundance’s desire to push the boundaries of established genres.

The boundary-pushing art on display at the festival is not relegated solely to the medium of film. Sundance has become a cultural marketplace where artists of all genres can find an avenue for expression beyond traditional filmmaking and investigate how different disciplines inform, inspire and enhance each other. The festival organizers have partnered with numerous organizations to help realize this ambition, and have even created their own New Frontier program, which they describe as “an experiment in presentation,” and “a social and creative space that showcases media installations, multimedia performances, transmedia experiences, panel discussions, and more.”

The New Frontiers initiative manifests itself in such events as this year’s debut of world-renown video artist Doug Aitken’s new work The Source (evolving) which is a documentary consisting of conversations with famous filmmakers and actors, each of which are projected on six screens simultaneously and displayed in a 2,000 sq ft. pavilion designed in collaboration with architect, David Adjaye. As well, multi-media artist Jacolby Satterwhite is showing a work called “The Matriarch’s Rhapsody” that uses his mother’s drawings and music recordings to create a multi-media video performance. Works like these help to demonstrate the infinite potential of the filmic medium and provide visual inspiration as to other ways that this medium can be put to use.

One of the organizations that Sundance has engaged to further this mission is Microsoft, who has channeled this cross-disciplinary experience with their One Million Square Feet of Culture initiative (1MSQFT). The goal of the traveling exhibition is to enhance the culture of events like Sundance by creating a platform for artists from diverse backgrounds to share their creative visions. The larger aim of the project is to highlight how seemingly unrelated forms of expression can provide unexpected and unlikely correlations with each other. For 1MSQFT this meant curating a creative food,  film, and tech experience at Art Basel Miami Beach, and event where food seemingly has no obviously place, and also by bringing a series of art events to the Sundance Film festival. This artistic intervention was curated by Ken Miller and La Blogothèque and comprised of a marching band performance by singer Shara Worden and her band My Brightest Diamond, a concert and piñata party by musician Mac DeMarco, and CONFETTISYSTEM, geometric visual art by Hisham Akira Bharoocha and The Portrait Machine by Carlo Van de Roer where the artist made portraits of familiar personalities from the Sundance community using a Polaroid aura camera. By providing a platform for new voices and displaying them in surprising and unexpected places, new creative connections can be made.

To trace how different forms of artistic expression interact with and inspire each other, PSFK will be speaking with the artists involved in the ongoing 1MSQFT project to understand their creative processes and discover how the festival program will continue to provide an innovative canvas for them to showcase their work. To get some visual inspiration of your own, check out the video of My Brightest Diamond’s performance at Sundance and the gallery of images below to see some of the amazing art projects displayed at the festival. It is a series of temporary spaces brought to life in unexpected places and guest curated by experts across a range of creative disciplines that are collected digitally and live on through technology.


One Million Square Feet of Culture (1MSQFT) is a survey of culture by Windows, where new creative works are presented by cultural partners in film, music, food, art , dance and fashion. It’s a series of spaces brought to life in unexpected places and guest-curated by experts across a range of creative disciplines. All contributing towards the eventual goal of creating one million square feet of culture. Visit; or join the conversation with @1MSQFTon Twitter or Instagram.

Images courtesy of Imeh Akpanudosen, Getty Images, 1MSQFT, Sundance Film Festival