Rubina (Ruby) Ramji , Associate Professor, Philosophy and Religious Studies is currently attending the Sundance Film Festival for the fourth time. Working with The Journal of Religion and Film, Ruby has been invited to attend the prestigious festival with full press credentials to cover films that she says are outside the realm of what is considered mainstream.
“Indie films tend to step outside mainstream themes and offer a great diversity in subject matter and theme,” she explains. “They are unique, innovative and uncommon – and often many are never widely distributed so those interested in religion and film might never know of them. So the journal is very happy that Sundance values our attendance and contribution at the festival.”
The festival, founded in 1985 by Robert Redford, takes place annually in Park City, Utah and sees more than 40,000 people from all over the world travel there to screen films from various categories including: dramatic and documentary films, shorts, New Frontier films, installations, performances, panel discussions, and music events. Less than 300 films are actually chosen to be viewed at Sundance, yet they receive more than 10,000 submissions each year.
“Many people focus on the "movie stars" that attend film festivals,” notes Ruby. “But the spirit of indie filmmaking continues on at Sundance – there are the low/no budget film premieres which are screened side by side with stellar names in the film industry. This allows viewers to absorb and be stimulated by new names as well as the regulars. Intertwined amongst so many of these films are some outright themes of religion, but the true finds have discreet themes embedded in them, sometimes hard to find and explain, which makes finding these kernels all the more exciting.”
Joining Ruby at Sundance this year for the first time and also working with The Journal of Religion and Film is Jodi McDavid, Office of Research & Graduate Studies, and Instructor in Heritage & Culture and Gender & Women's Studies. Jodi adds, “I’m very keen to see as many international films as possible. They're filled with such diverse topics as Internet addiction to Civil War and depict the concerns of each individual country, discussing tensions a Western audience may not even know about. My research areas are folklore, vernacular religion and gender and women's studies, so I'll be writing reviews for the many, many films that cover those subjects.”
The Sundance report in the Journal of Religion and Film is unique in that it offers film reviews to readers in real time – after seeing the films, reviews are immediately made available to readers online so that they can share in the festival individually – they don't have to wait months before finding out what exciting films are being screened this year.
The Journal of Religion and Film is an open access journal, and is freely accessible at the following website:http://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/jrf/