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Sundance Film Festival 2021 To Have Virtual Screenings Across USA

The 2021 edition of the Sundance Film Festival will move beyond its traditional venue, Park City in Utah, to cities across the United States via online screenings, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Sundance Institute, as per a Variety report, announced on Wednesday that they would collaborate with drive-in theatres and independent cinemas across the country to make this available to the public.


Organised by the non-profit Sundance Institute, this year’s event will be screened in cities like New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Kansas, California, and Florida, in addition to its traditional venue at Park City in Utah. The festival is scheduled to be held from January 28 through February 3. The shift to virtual space comes in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” said festival director Tabitha Jackson, who is directing the festival for the first time.

Jackson who called the event a “festival of discovery,” said, “Even under these impossible circumstances artists are still finding paths to make bold and vital work in whatever ways they can.”

“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 executive director Keri Putnam.

As per the festival’s original schedule, films will premiere throughout the day, with Day One films set to debut on Thursday, January 28, at 6 p.m. U.S. Mountain Time. Over 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 the 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, organisers said.

Jackson told Variety, “Nothing is going to beat being in the Eccles Theatre. We recognise that, and won’t pretend otherwise. But in a pandemic, this is the best we’ve come up with and we’re happy about the opportunities with it.”

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

The Short Film and Indie Series (formerly the Indie Episodic programs), which focuses 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 duration of the festival.

The Sundance festival is yet to announce its line-up of films.

Given the Covid-19 pandemic, several international film festivals and award functions have devised ways to deal with the crisis.


The 93rd Academy Awards that is scheduled to be held in April 2021 will have a live show at the 3,400 seater Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. With the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences postponing the Oscars by two months, the event will be held with Covid-19 safety protocols in place and will be broadcast by ABC Television Network.

The Emmy Awards was held in September this year partially on Zoom and partially live at an empty Staples Theatre in Los Angeles which was broadcast by the ABC Television Network. The announcement of nominations and winners was done digitally with the presenters doing the honours through Zoom calls from their houses.

Meanwhile, the Venice International Film Festival, also held in September, saw half the usual attendance present, and strictly maintained Covid-19 safety protocols.

Other upcoming international film ceremonies include, the Golden Globe Awards 2021 (February 28, 2021), the Critics Choice Awards (March 7, 2021), the Screen Actors Guild Awards or SAG (March 14, 2021), and the British Academy for Film and Television Awards or BAFTA (April 11, 2021).