The Sundance Film Festival, which wrapped at the end of January, had a palpable sense of purpose this year. While it's been socially conscious since it's inception, the 2017 festival had a renewed and explicit sense of urgency. We sent photographer Albert Sanchez to shoot the stars, directors, and creative masterminds behind this year's slate of films, from Jenny Slate to Flying Lotus in his directorial debut to Jessica Williams to Derek Lam. Check them all out in the slideshow below.

This was the first year the festival had an over-arching, activist themes. Climate change was prominent, as represented by premieres including An Inconvenient Truth: The Sequel and Look and See (which examines US agriculture through the writings of Wendell Berry).

Kick-ass female filmmakers were in full-force at Sundance, both on the screen (including breakout performances by promising young actors like Danielle MacDonald of Patti Cake$ and Florence Pugh of Macbeth) and in the streets. The festival's first weekend featured the invigorating "March on Main," one of the hundreds of women's marches going on around the country. March leader Aisha Tyler and speaker Jessica Williams issued compelling calls to action for all festival attendees.

The second weekend also saw a demonstration against the Dakota Access Pipeline, famously attended by Shailene Woodley and Malia Obama. Native Americans were also well-represented on screen, from Viceland's "RISE" series on the DAPL protests and Rumble, the doc on Native American musicians featuring Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas, amongst others.

Festival award winners included docs concerning the differently-abled ("Dina") and starring refugees (Sudanese model/DJ/first-time actress Mari Malek of The Nile Hilton Incident). Overall, Sundance 2017 pointed towards a brighter, more-inclusive future for filmmaking, one that is open to a multiplicity of stories and points-of-view.

Photos by Albert Sanchez and Pedro Zalba

Coordination assistance by Nicole Dawson

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