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2021 Sundance Film Festival

by Soraya Alcalá

The nonprofit Sundance Institute today unveiled plans for the seven-day 2021 Sundance Film Festival, offered digitally via a custom-designed online platform (festival.sundance.org) alongside drive-ins, independent arthouses, and a network of local community partnerships.

The online expression of the Sundance Film Festival will provide global access for storytellers and audiences alike to come together, experience artists  new work, connect with one another, and participate in conversation. All films in the program will be available online in the United States, with certain films opting for global availability.

The full talks and events program, as well as the New Frontier section for XR and emerging 
media, will be available globally. 



The Festival runs January  28 through February 3, 2021

“Our Festival footprint has changed this year, but we are excited to bring an incredible community together in new
ways to engage with new artists and new stories — whether they’re joining us for the first year or have been for
decades,” said Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam. “Our ambition is for everyone to come
together, safely, wherever they may be, and participate in screenings on our platform at the same time. The
Sundance team has consulted with artists, worked with incredible partners, and built a plan to welcome new
audiences and capture a true Festival spirit.”


As at past Sundance Film Festivals, films will premiere throughout the day, with Day One films set to debut
Thursday, January 28, at 6 p.m. U.S. Mountain Time. During the 2021 Festival, each of the 70+ feature films will
premiere online in a dedicated time slot, followed by a live Q&A. Multiple films will premiere simultaneously
roughly every three hours from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. U.S. Mountain Time. This rollout is designed to preserve the
energy of a Festival, with an abundance of choices and collective experiences, as audiences can begin the film
simultaneously, and participate in the live Q&A which follows (viewers can also begin films any time within three
hours of their premiere’s start). All films will return to the platform two days after their premiere for a “second
screening,” offered on demand for 24 hours. The platform’s movie player is powered by Shift72 and developed
with best-in-industry security and access practices. In a Festival first, the entire 70+-feature lineup on the platform
will be closed-captioned on demand, and Q&As will be live-captioned.


The Short Film and Indie Series (formerly Indie Episodic) programs, focused on creative storytelling outside the
feature format, will include 50 short films and world premieres of four episodic works. These will be available on
demand on the Festival platform for the full length of the Festival.


Since its launch, the Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier has served as a showcase for dynamic, innovative
work at the crossroads of film, art, and technology — and 2021 is no exception, with 14 works in the program. For
the first time ever, adventurous audiences around the world will be given the chance to engage with the works,
the artists, and each other via a bespoke virtual platform, accessible via computer and VR headsets. The New
Frontier Gallery hosts the complete slate of live performances, AR, VR, and other emerging media works.
Cinema House is the Festival’s fully immersive, big-screen theater, and Film Party is an interactive social space
where the entire community of accredited Festivalgoers can safely gather together again. The environment also
features interactive tools such as proximity audio and video chat.


Expanding beyond its Utah home, the Festival has created a network of partnerships to bring feature films and
customized local programming — talks, events, artist meet-ups — to communities across the country. In addition to
these Satellite Screen partnerships, the Institute will program screenings at The Ray in Park City and the Rose
Bowl and Mission Tiki Drive-Ins in Los Angeles, health and safety guidelines permitting. Each Satellite Screen
will create and host their own events, sharing local cultural conversations with broader Festival audiences, with
most also screening selections from the 2021 program.

Alabama: Birmingham with Sidewalk Film Festival
Sidewalk Film Center, Sidewalk Drive-In
Arizona: Tucson with The Loft Cinema
The Loft Open Air Cinema
Montclair with American Cinematheque
Mission Tiki Drive-In
Pasadena with the Rose Bowl
Rose Bowl Drive-In
San Francisco with The Roxie Theater
Roxie Theater, Fort Mason Drive-In
Colorado: Denver with Denver Film
Sie FilmCenter
Key West with Tropic Cinema
Tropic Cinema, The Key West Lighthouse, The Truman Little White House, The Ernest Hemingway
House and Museum
Miami with Third Horizon and O Cinema
New World Symphony SoundScape Park and South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center
Atlanta with Atlanta Film Society
The Plaza Theater, Plaza Drive-In, Dad’s Garage Drive-In
Macon with Macon Film Festival
Douglass Theatre
Hawaii: Honolulu with Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Art (HoMA)
Iowa: Iowa City with FilmScene
FilmScene at The Chauncey
Kansas: Wichita with mama.film
mama.film microcinema, Wichita Art Museum, Groover Labs
Kentucky: Louisville with The Speed Art Museum
Speed Art Museum
Louisiana: New Orleans with New Orleans Film Society
The Broad Theater
Maryland: Baltimore with Maryland Film Festival
Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway Theater
Massachusetts: Brookline with Coolidge Corner Theatre
Coolidge Corner Theatre
Michigan: Detroit with Cinema Detroit
Minnesota: Minneapolis-St. Paul with FilmNorth
Riverview Theater
New York: Pleasantville with Jacob Burns Film Center
Jacob Burns Film Center & Media Arts Lab
Ohio: Columbus with Gateway Film Center
Gateway Film Center
Oklahoma: Tulsa with Circle Cinema
Circle Cinema, Circle Cinema Drive-In, Admiral Twin Drive-In, Philbrook Museum, OSU-Tulsa, Tulsa
University, Gilcrease Museum
Pennsylvania: Philadelphia with BlackStar Film Festival
Puerto Rico: San Juan with Asociación de Documentalistas de Puerto Rico (AdocPR)
Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (MAPR)
South Carolina: Columbia with The Luminal Theater
Spotlight Cinemas Capitol 8
Memphis with Indie Memphis
Malco Summer Drive-In
Nashville with Belcourt Theatre
Belcourt Theatre
Austin with Austin Film Society
AFS Cinema
Dallas with Aviation Cinemas
Texas Theatre
Houston with Houston Cinema Arts Society
MoonStruck Drive-In, DeLUXE Theater
Park City
The Ray
Salt Lake City with Salt Lake Film Society
Seattle with Northwest Film Forum

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