Students expanded their learning from the classroom to theaters at this year’s celebrity-studded Sundance Film Festival held in Park City, Utah. As they dug into the spiritual themes underlying different films, the festival was an opportunity for students to integrate their faith with their film studies.

This year, Biola's Cinema and Media Arts students in attendance formed the largest group at the Sundance Film Festival, which took place Jan. 23-29, shortly before Biola students returned from their winter break for the spring semester. The festival exhibits 200 independent films a year with more than 50,000 attendees. Within a community of Christians at the festival, the students explored the messages of at least 12 films with the film directors present to explain their vision.

“The directors feel more heard and they explain themselves better. We ask the questions that no one asks,” explained junior Kyle Burke.

Biola students have the unique opportunity to engage in intimate panel discussions with the filmmakers, exploring the film’s themes and hearing the real life experiences that helped create the films.

Biola students travel to the festival as a community and join other college students from around the country, forming a group called the Windrider Forum.  Windrider connects students with the directors of the films and gives them the opportunity for personal Q&A sessions. This not only inspires ideas for future Biola films, but also allows the director to explain their films in depth.

In the past, the festival has helped films such as “Super Size Me,” “Juno” and “Napoleon Dynamite” achieve success. Along with viewing several independently funded films, the audience enjoys live music, celebrations and discussions.

Not only were current students involved in viewing the films, but Biola alumna Judith Hill took the stage during the festival in a soulful performance. As an acclaimed singer and songwriter, she helped celebrate the premiere of a new drama her music will be featured in, “Red Hook Summer,” produced by Spike Lee. Hill earned her degree in music composition at Biola University and has continued on to make a name for herself.

Written by Tenielle Schroeder, Media Relations Intern. For more information, contact Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator, at 562.777.4061 or at