Slamdance Festival Director Taylor Miller interview | Film Reviews | Salt Lake City Weekly

Slamdance Festival Director Taylor Miller interview 

First-year Slamdance director discusses her new role

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  • Courtesy Slamdance

The Slamdance Film Festival also returns to Park City in 2024, with a new festival director, Taylor Miller. Via email, Miller talked about her new role and this year's festival program.

City Weekly: With any new job, there are things that shake out the way you'd expect them to, and some surprises that you might not have initially considered as part of the job. What has surprised you most about what you're called to do in your role?

Taylor Miller: What surprised me most ... was the overwhelming support I received from so many people. In so many ways, it confirmed what I already knew. The unwavering dedication and passion of our team and programmers, as well as the meticulous planning involved, have only reinforced my appreciation for this incredible community. Without fail, each year, I have the privilege of encountering films or collections of films that are truly unparalleled, pushing the boundaries of creativity in ways I could never have anticipated. It's a constant source of exhilaration and fulfillment in my role as the festival director.

CW: You're obviously not brand-new to the Slamdance family. In what ways did your previous roles with Slamdance provide you with the foundation for this new role?

TM: My journey within the Slamdance family is deeply rooted in a passion for storytelling, instilled in me and my siblings growing up in Kentucky by both of our parents. From my earliest days in programming in 2010 to my roles as festival manager of Slamdance Miami and co-founder of Slamdance Unstoppable in the challenging year of 2020, this passion has been a guiding force. It's a testament to the enduring influence of my parents and siblings, which now extends to my role as festival director, where I have the privilege of championing and celebrating the storytelling talents of independent filmmakers all over the world.

CW: A new director could choose varying degrees between staying the course with the way things have been done vs. wanting to put your personal stamp on things. Where did you decide to place yourself on that spectrum?

TM: The heartbeat of Slamdance undeniably lies within our programmers and filmmakers. They are the lifeblood of this community, and I hold profound respect for their dedication. It's a deeply personal and committed endeavor, often carried out behind the scenes.

Many of our programmers—brilliant filmmakers themselves, educators and artists—juggle multiple roles as they meticulously assess and discuss the films. This dedication and multitasking cannot be overlooked; it's what makes Slamdance the unique and vibrant community that it is.

I've made it a priority to respect and uphold the cherished traditions of Slamdance, which have always been at the core of our identity.

However, I've also taken the opportunity to add my own touch to our legacy by infusing a renewed commitment to accessibility and inclusivity. By weaving these values into the fabric of our tradition, I aim to honor our past while ushering in a more inclusive and diverse era for independent filmmakers within the Slamdance community.

CW: Have the COVID years and their aftermath resulted in fundamental shifts in the way Slamdance thinks about how best to serve and support its filmmakers?

TM: The past few years have offered an opportunity for Slamdance to reassess its core mission in light of the challenges posed by the pandemic. The emergence of our online festival during this time was not just a response to necessity, but a reimagining of how we serve and support filmmakers.

It represents a departure from the traditional model, emphasizing accessibility in a new way.

We have decentered our previous notions and embraced a more fluid and interconnected approach to engaging with filmmakers and audiences worldwide. We are willing to keep learning from each other, and ourselves.

CW: What stands out for you about the program that Slamdance has put together for 2024?

TM: This program transcends geographical borders, presenting a global resonance through the intimate lens of each filmmaker.

The films cease to be mere representations; they become realities themselves, evoking a profound sense of connection and shared humanity, exemplifying the postmodern fusion of the personal and the universal.

This synthesis allows the audience to connect with individual experiences on a personal level while also recognizing the common threads of humanity that bind us all together, making it a truly inclusive and relatable lineup.

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About The Author

Scott Renshaw

Scott Renshaw

Scott Renshaw has been a City Weekly staff member since 1999, including assuming the role of primary film critic in 2001 and Arts & Entertainment Editor in 2003. Scott has covered the Sundance Film Festival for 25 years, and provided coverage of local arts including theater, pop-culture conventions, comedy, literature,... more

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