Yesterday, nearly 100 pro-Palestinian protestors gathered at the Sundance Film Festival, chanting controversial slogans and criticizing the Biden administration's stance on Israel. The demonstration took place on Park City's Main Street, with heavy police surveillance and media coverage. The protesters aimed to capture the attention of cameras and reporters, using the large media spotlight that Sundance attracts every year.
The demonstrators criticized the Biden administration's strong allegiance with Israel and accused President Biden of being a "butcher" and responsible for the deaths of children. The protest quickly spilled off the sidewalk into the street, prompting law enforcement to shut down the road to traffic to ensure the safety of all involved.
Passersby at the festival expressed their support for bringing home hostages still held in Gaza by Hamas. Melissa Barrera, an actress attending Sundance for her film "Your Monsters," has been outspoken in her support for Palestine. Barrera has also advocated for a ceasefire in the Gaza War that erupted after Hamas launched a violent attack on communities near the border with Israel.
Barrera's pro-Palestinian stance led to her being fired from the film "Scream VII" back in November, as her remarks were considered anti-Semitic. However, Barrera later released a statement condemning hate and prejudice of any kind against any group of people.
Pose star Indy Moore also participated in the protest, advocating for a free Palestine. Sundance organizers declined to comment on the protests but stated their commitment to the safety and security of festival attendees.
The Let Gaza Live protest had been planned for weeks, with protestors boarding buses at Kimball Junction Station before arriving at the main bus depot near Swede Alley. The protest coincided with a panel at Sundance titled "Sects, Lies & Videotape: Debunking Deadly Tropes About Jews and Israel in TV, Film, and Media." Activist and producer Noa Tishby, a participant in the panel, aimed to speak directly with the demonstrators.
Earlier in the week, a smaller group held a vigil off Main Street, and the Let Gaza Live event expressed their belief that films should not be watched while ignoring the situation in Gaza. The organizers of the protest are not affiliated with the overall Sundance Film Festival.
Politics and activism have often mixed with cinema at Sundance, with previous demonstrations and rallies held in response to various political issues.