On an overcrowded Sunday afternoon amid the Sundance Film Festival, dozens of Palestinian protestors, including actors Melissa Barrera and Indya Moore, crowded the pavement to yell “free Palestine” and “stop the genocide,” bringing traffic on Park City’s Main Street to a total halt. From the beginning of the Israel-Hamas War, members of the entertainment industry have participated in demands for a ceasefire and anti-conflict demonstrations.
At a particular point, Pose star Moore—who was in town for Ponyboi’s festival premiere—took the mike and declared, “I’m gay as — God forgive me — fuck. I love everybody. I love people. I have Israeli friends. I have Jewish friends. I have Palestinian friends. Everybody sees what’s happening. They all agree, there needs to be a ceasefire. Stop telling us to hate each other. Stop telling us they hate each other. They also know that the Palestinian children that have been murdered are not responsible for freeing the hostages right now. That’s just the truth, right? The children are innocent.”
“If you care about life, if you care about dignity, if you care about freedom, you care about the self-determination of everybody,” Moore said, glancing at Barrera. Moore countered, saying, “This is about life,” despite the fact that LGBTQ people in Palestine frequently experience violence, persecution, and even death. “That’s why I’m here. I’m trans, right? It’s about love.” She then said, “Free Palestine is about equality for everybody.”
The incident played out just in front of Main Street Pizza & Noodle, a Park City institution, as the crowd of protesters bumped into festival goers who were attempting to navigate the packed block in order to go to films, panels, lunches, and other events. The weather was forecast to be in the mid-30s with snow flurries. Chrissy Teigen was once spotted approaching the demonstration while being followed by a large group of people.
Barrera’s presence follows her termination from the Scream franchise because to remarks she made on social media regarding the situation between Israel and Gaza. The supporter of Palestine claims that since then, she’s experienced an “awakening” that has helped her realise who she is “supposed to be” in life. For the premiere of her latest movie, Your Monster, she is in Park City. A few Israeli supporters were positioned in front of the Palestinian demonstrators, causing tension in the air as they chanted “bring them home,” a reference to the captives who have been detained since the attack on the Nova music festival on October 7. The Palestinian demonstrators were being heckled by others, who were making an effort to muffle their calls for “resistance is justified when people are occupied.”
The proposed demonstration was first announced on Friday through a social media post endorsing “Let Gaza Live,” which encouraged interested parties to march down Main Street on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. “Park City hosts the biggest independent film festival in the United States, drawing tens of thousands of attendees from all over the world. The Instagram post stated, “We want to let viewers and news reporters understand that Utah supports Palestine, even though we don’t disagree with Sundance overall.
There is no connection between the demonstration and the Sundance Film Festival. The Palestinian Solidarity Association of Utah stated that Armed Queers of Salt Lake City, a Utah-based organisation, would be in charge of providing security for the demonstration.
The Sundance Institute said in an announcement at that moment, “We have also been made aware of the demonstration and its commitment to maintaining a peaceful environment. While the organisers are non-affiliated with the Festival itself, the safety and security of our festival goers is always of concern to us, and we consistently work with local law enforcement to uphold an environment that is welcoming, inspiring, and secure for all our attendees.” The social, political, and cultural landscape is mirrored on large screens and through entertainment with instances, panels, demonstrations, and meetings, as is frequently the case at Sundance. According to their website, an organization named Film Workers for Palestine published an open letter a few days ago urging “filmmakers and cinema workers to stand for an end to genocide and for a free Palestine.” Actors and filmmakers presenting work at Sundance are among the participants.
The Bring Them Home hostage effort teamed up with Park City’s Evening of Solidarity event on Friday night. The three-hour event was something that Jacob Shwirtz, the event organiser, “will never forget as long as I live,” referring to his Instagram post. It served to draw attention to the hostages that have been detained since militant group Hamas kidnapped them on October 7 when they were visiting the Nova music festival. “We succeeded in bringing the story of the hostage crisis to the center of the Sundance Film Festival,” he posted. “There were tears and hugs and emotion and stories, and I truly believe it was an unforgettable, powerful experience.”
In addition to taking part, filmmaker Allison Norlian posted on Instagram, sharing her thoughts: “Last night, instead of attending another screening, party or panel, we gathered in solidarity with the hostages and their families. We listened to the parents and brother of two hostages still being held in Gaza and one woman who escaped the Nova music festival. It was emotional and raw, and my heart is broken for all these people have been through and continue to go through.”