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How Malia Obama Spent Sundance: A Neon Party, Filmmaker Q&As and Too Short at Tao Park City

Malia Obama stepped onto a red carpet last week for the first time, with good reason. The former first daughter hit Park City for the Sundance Film Festival premiere of her short film The Heart, an 18-minute directorial debut that snagged a spot in the U.S. short fiction films program of the 2024 edition. The premiere screening happened on the fest’s opening day, Jan. 18, and screened two more times over the weekend. The budding filmmaker, who participated in all post-screening Q&As to discuss her work, also took time out of her busy schedule to screen the film and speak with a group of students at Park City High School about all things creative from writing to directing.

LaTonya Borsay, Tunde Adebimpe, Ayesha Nadarajah and Malia Ann Obama attend the "The Heart" Premiere at the Short Film Program 1 during the 2024 Sundance Film Festival at Prospector Square Theatre on January 18, 2024 in Park City, Utah.
Malia Obama attended The Heart premiere and posed with her actors and short-film collaborators.

It wasn’t all work and no play for the 25-year-old daughter of Barack and Michelle Obama. The Hollywood Reporter learned that after her big premiere, Malia swung by the Neon party at Sommsation Wine Lounge at local wine bar Old Town Cellars on Main Street. Malia chatted with The White Lotus stars Fred Hechinger and Will Sharpe. Per a source, Malia hung out in a VIP room with White Lotus stars and “was very nice” with fellow attendees by granting selfies upon request including one with Danielle Diliberti, Sommsation CEO.

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Other stars at the event — which featured Sommsation’s luxury wine-tasting experience with pours from Terratorium, Halter Ranch and cocktails by Hendrick’s Gin — included Billy Magnussen and John Early with his crew from the festival entry Stress Positions.

Later that same night, Malia popped by the Macro Lodge, an annual festival destination presented by the company’s Charles D. King and Stacey Walker King. A source confirmed that she stopped by the lodge’s well-attended open house celebration to kick off a weekend of programming, parties and panels. While The Heart made its Sundance debut, the short had a world premiere at the 2023 edition of the Telluride Film Festival before it moved on to the Chicago International Film Festival and won an award for best live action short.

NEON Films studio party
A look at the scene outside Neon’s Sundance party at Sommsation Wine Lounge on Main Street.
NEON Films studio party
Neon founder and CEO Tom Quinn poses at the party for his Oscar-winning company.

Then over the weekend, Malia hit up Tao Park City presented by Poppi. Arriving on Saturday after 1 a.m. and declining red carpet pics, she and an entourage that included reps and close friends posted up at a VIP table next to the stage. Sipping on Casamigos tequila cocktails, Malia “seemed to be in great spirits,” said a source, as she danced a little while watching a performance by Too Short. The rapper, in town for the premiere of his movie Freaky Tales, surprised the crowd with a full set that included a performance of his hit “Blow the Whistle.”

It was a late night (or early morning) for Malia, as is often the case for Tao revelers, as sources confirmed that she stayed at the pop-up club for approximately two hours with music by DJ Mel DeBarge. Other VIPs making the rounds that night included Kieran Culkin, Aubrey Plaza, Steven Yeun and Lil Jon, who celebrated his birthday with cake and bottle service. Though no official imagery surfaced from her social rounds around Park City, Malia can be seen in this Casamigos sizzle reel posted to the brand’s Instagram account from inside Tao Park City, presented by Poppi.

Tao, a Park City hotspot during this year’s festival, featured specialty Poppi cocktails, a Hendrick’s Gin whimsical winter chalet, an après ski Campari bar serving up aperol spritz and Negroni sbagliatos, Casamigos as the exclusive tequila partner, champagne pours at the Moët & Chandon bar and Whispering Angel rosé.

The list of other bold-faced names who popped by included Bijou Phillips, Chris Colfer, Danny Ramirez, Dylan Mulvaney, James Morosini, Jeremy O. Harris, influencer Josh Richards, Kathryn Newton, Kenya Barris, Leslie Grace, Real Housewives stars Lisa Barlow and Meredith Marks, Talia Ryder, Will Forte, Will Sharpe and Blue Beetle star Xolo Maridueña.

TAO Park City Presented by poppi
Aubrey Plaza, Kieran Culkin and Steven Yeun at Tao Park City, presented by Poppi
TAO Park City Presented by poppi
What Obama saw: Too Short performing at Tao Park City, presented by Poppi
TAO Park City Presented by poppi
Dancers perform at Tao Park City, presented by Poppi.

Jan. 22, 9:05 p.m.: Updated to include more information about Malia Obama’s filmmaking activities and remove a mention about secret service.

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