2021 Sundance Film Festival unveils digital, hybrid screening plans

The Sundance Institute has revealed that its flagship seven-day Sundance Film Festival has undergone a digital transformation that will see the 2021 event offered via a custom-designed online platform. The online expression of ...
December 2, 2020

The Sundance Institute has revealed that its flagship seven-day Sundance Film Festival has undergone a digital transformation that will see the 2021 event offered via a custom-designed online platform.

The online expression of the Sundance Film Festival – running Jan. 28 to Feb. 3, 2021 – will offer global access for both storytellers and audiences, allowing them to “experience artists’ new work, connect with one another, and participate in conversation,” according to festival organizers.

All films will be made available virtually to audiences throughout the U.S., with select films opting for global availability. Each of the more than 70 feature film selections – which have not yet been announced – will premiere online in a dedicated time slot, followed by a live Q&A.

The films will return to the platform two days after their premiere for a “second screening,” offered on demand for 24 hours.

Additionally, the full talks and events programs, alongside the New Frontier section (for works in extended reality and emerging media) will be made available to festival participants globally.

In addition to the digital experience, Sundance will expand beyond its Park City, Utah borders with a selection of satellite screenings.

Through a network of partnerships secured with drive-in theaters, independent arthouses and a network of local cultural organizations, the festival will bring feature films and customized local programming – talks, events, artist meet-ups – to audiences across the country.

The Sundance Institute will also program screenings at The Ray Theater in Park City, as well as at the Rose Bowl and Mission Tiki Drive-Ins throughout Los Angeles.

“Even under these impossible circumstances artists are still finding paths to make bold and vital work in whatever ways they can,” said festival director Tabitha Jackson in a statement. “So Sundance, as a festival of discovery, will bring that work to its first audiences in whatever ways we can.

“The core of our festival in the form of an online platform and socially distanced cinematic experiences is responsive to the pandemic and gives us the opportunity to reach new audiences, safely, where they are. And thanks to a constellation of independent cinema communities across the U.S. we are not putting on our festival alone. At the heart of all this is a belief in the power of coming together, and the desire to preserve what makes a festival unique — a collaborative spirit, a collective energy, and a celebration of the art, artists, and ideas that leave us changed.”

“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,” added 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.”

Programming details for films at the Satellite Screenings will be made available when the full Sundance program is announced later this month. Plans will additionally evolve in conjunction with health and safety guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Birmingham with Sidewalk Film Festival
Sidewalk Film Center, Sidewalk Drive-In

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

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

Honolulu with Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Art (HoMA)

Iowa City with FilmScene
FilmScene at The Chauncey

Wichita with microcinema, Wichita Art Museum, Groover Labs

Louisville with The Speed Art Museum
Speed Art Museum

New Orleans with New Orleans Film Society
The Broad Theater

Baltimore with Maryland Film Festival
Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway Theater

Brookline with Coolidge Corner Theatre
Coolidge Corner Theatre

Detroit with Cinema Detroit

Minneapolis-St. Paul with FilmNorth
Riverview Theater

Pleasantville with The Jacob Burns Film Center 
Jacob Burns Film Center & Media Arts Lab

Columbus with Gateway Film Center
Gateway Film Center

Tulsa with Circle Cinema

Circle Cinema, Circle Cinema Drive-In, Admiral Twin Drive-In, Philbrook Museum, OSU-Tulsa, Tulsa University, Gilcrease Museum

Philadelphia with BlackStar Film Festival

San Juan with Asociación de Documentalistas de Puerto Rico(AdocPR)
Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (MAPR)


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 at The Ray

Salt Lake City with Salt Lake Film Society

Seattle with Northwest Film Forum

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