Heidi Zwicker remembers the primary videotape she rented as just a little child — and her mother and father in all probability nonetheless do, too.
“I watched and rewound, watched and rewound ‘The Breakfast Membership.’ I believe I watched it 5 occasions within the two days we had it,” Zwicker, 44, stated with amusing. “I used to be captivated. Once we returned it, I instantly wished to lease it once more. Good name by my mother and father — my mother was like, “We’re simply going to purchase ‘The Breakfast Membership.’”
Heidi Zwicker (Courtesy Matthew Takata)
Rising up in Salem and Beverly, Zwicker fell into one other world when watching motion pictures — however it appeared like “extra of a pastime” than a profession path.
The little woman on the North Shore endlessly rewinding videotapes by no means dreamed movie-watching would in the future be her job.
At this time, the UMass Dartmouth alum is a senior programmer for the Sundance Movie Competition, specializing in worldwide and U.S. narrative function movies, midnight and shorts. She can be senior programmer on the Provincetown Worldwide Movie Competition.
Sundance is in-person in Park Metropolis, Utah, Jan. 19-29 — however no must fly. You’ll be able to watch lots of this yr’s movies on-line in your individual house beginning Jan. 24.
Now in its thirty ninth yr, the fest has earned a popularity for launching hits. Wanting again on the 2022 Oscars, for instance, the winner for Finest Image, “CODA,” and Finest Documentary, “Summer season of Soul,” had their world premieres at Sundance.
I not too long ago spoke over Zoom with Zwicker, who was at her house in LA (earlier than she left for Park Metropolis). She talked about her Massachusetts roots, her highway to Sundance and what to look at at this yr’s fest.
Lauren Daley: I’m involved in your highway from “Breakfast Membership” fan to Sundance screener.
Heidi Zwicker: Movies, TV, performs — I bought caught up in it; they set my creativeness on hearth. I’m additionally a really delicate viewer. I’m a extra skilled viewer now, however as a child, if something was unhappy, I would cry on a regular basis. Due to that, I developed an curiosity in horror motion pictures, as a result of they would not make me cry. My household would take me to the video retailer and say, “She will lease something she needs from the horror part — it is higher than coping with her after she watched ‘E.T.’”
I like that. You earned your English diploma from UMass Dartmouth in 2000.
I enrolled pondering, “Perhaps I will be an English instructor.” I cherished movie, however by no means thought of it might be my profession. Then I discovered UMass Dartmouth’s English program had a focus in movie and drama research — and that was irresistible. I believed, “Perhaps there may be a way this may be a part of what I do.” Though I nonetheless had no thought how. [laughs]
I went to UCLA in 2002 for movie research — historical past, criticism, concept. I used to be like, I like this an excessive amount of to not attempt to determine one thing out. Then my program was wrapping up, [I earned a masters from UCLA in critical studies of film and television] I wasn’t positive what I used to be going to do. Somebody from my cohort was interning at Sundance and knew their function movie program was in search of folks to learn worldwide scripts. I believed it sounded enjoyable. I interviewed with no related expertise in any respect, simply lots of curiosity. [laughs] They gave me a shot. Seems, they favored my style. They really useful me as a screener. At that time, I used to be working a day job, going house, studying scripts, watching motion pictures. I used to be working as many hours doing that as I used to be at my day job.
Harris Dickinson and Lola Campbell in “Scrapper” by Charlotte Regan. (Courtesy of Chris Harris/Sundance Institute)
What was your day job?
A video conferencing firm. So probably the most tangentially associated to movie research you might get. [laughs] And it’s out of date now. Everyone has Zoom.
Then I began on the competition full-time as World Cinema Coordinator in 2010.
Loads of motion pictures premiere at Sundance and change into blockbusters or Oscar winners. What are a couple of you knew have been going to be large?
I keep in mind seeing Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade” for the primary time.
I used to be on the ground. It is such a cliche, however I felt so seen. For that movie to have its success is admittedly cool. “CODA” was tremendously emotional for me as a result of it is an emotional film, but additionally it is shot on the North Shore. It was a time after I did not know after I was going to be house once more. So my reminiscence of seeing that movie is admittedly profound. To see all its success is wonderful.
Early on in my tenure, we performed “Fruitvale Station,” which is such an incredible film and Ryan Coogler is really one of many nicest human beings I’ve ever met.
Jonathan Majors in “Journal Desires” by Elijah Bynum. (Courtesy of Glen Wilson/Sundance Institute)
What are a couple of movies you’d spotlight on this yr’s fest?
One which made me cry is “Scrapper” from the U.Okay. It is a father-daughter story. It is emotional, however humorous. The filmmaker Charlotte Regan was an Ignite fellow, which is our program for filmmakers underneath 25. She was a shorts alum and now we have now her function debut. It is tremendous cool to look at that progress.
An edgy, provocative movie, “Journal Desires,” is the second function by Elijah Bynum, from Amherst. It stars Jonathan Majors, who’s an amazing actor. I believe each the route and the performances are astounding. I’ll additionally decide “Cat Individual.”
Emilia Jones and Nicholas Braun in “Cat Individual” by Susanna Fogel. (Courtesy of Sundance Institute)
I used to be going to ask you about that one! Did you just like the quick story [in The New Yorker by Kristen Roupenian]? Does it work as a function?
I used to be obsessive about the quick story. It takes the quick story as a launching level, however it goes in some artistic instructions. It is an incredible solid — Emilia Jones from “CODA,” Nicholas Braun from “Succession,” which is my favourite present. It is only a twisty entertaining film.
Talking of “Succession,” Sarah Snook is in “Run Rabbit Run.”
That’s an awesome thriller within the “Midnight” part. It’s not out there on-line, however it’s nice.
What a few documentary?
“Sufferer/Suspect” — that’s going to attract lots of consideration. It’s about girls who report sexual assaults after which are investigated and even charged with making false experiences. It’s enraging.
A nonetheless from “Sufferer/Suspect” by Nancy Schwartzman. (Courtesy of Sundance Institute)
What’s a movie that’s not out there to see now on-line, however that you simply assume will take off?
“Typically I believe About Dying.” I adore it. It’s primarily based on a brief movie we performed a couple of years in the past. I used to be skeptical as a result of I believe the quick movie is ideal. However it completely captures the spirit of the quick. It stars Daisy Ridley — I believe folks shall be to see her in a task that is so completely different from “Star Wars.” She’s magnificent in it.
A tiny darling that I need to deliver to folks’s consideration is “Fremont.” It’s not like some other movie I’ve ever seen. It is a few younger refugee from Afghanistan, residing in Northern California, working in a fortune cookie firm, making an attempt to make her means. Actually offbeat, dramedy, comedy, nothing else fairly prefer it. The lead [Anaita Wali Zada] is an Afghan refugee. She’s terrific in it.
Anaita Wali Zada in “Fremont” by Babak Jalali. Courtesy of Laura Valladao/Sundance Institute)
That sounds fascinating. What number of motion pictures have you ever seen this yr to arrange?
About 500 options.
Wow. You talked about the Amherst filmmaker — are there some other Massachusetts ties?
There’s a movie set in Massachusetts known as ”Eileen,” primarily based on the  novel by Ottessa Moshfegh. It’s set round a Nineteen Sixties jail, starring Anne Hathaway as a mysterious girl who involves work on the jail and may need unknown motives. It is actually lovely.
A nonetheless from “Eileen” by William Oldroyd. (Courtesy of Sundance Institute)
You’ll be on the fest in individual. Do you ever get a unique perspective on a film while you see it with a reside viewers, and the best way they react?
For positive. It is humorous as a result of I am [often] standing subsequent to the filmmaker watching an viewers watch their film for the primary time, seeing them chortle in an surprising place, or sniffling at a tragic second. It’s great.
This interview has been edited and condensed for readability.