Park City, Utah, is going to be a little quieter next January. The Sundance Film Festival, which has descended upon this snowy town every year for the last few decades, will largely be held virtually next year, following the trend set by other film festivals in the wake of the ongoing pandemic. Films will mainly premiere online, though there are also plans to hold socially distanced screenings at over 30 locations across the country, like The Ray theater in Park City and the Rose Bowl and Mission Tiki Drive-Ins in 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 released Wednesday. “So Sundance, as a festival of discovery, will bring that work to its first audiences in whatever ways we can.”
“Our ambition is for everyone to come together, safely, wherever they may be, and participate in screenings on our platform at the same time,” said Sundance Institute executive director Keri Putnam. “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.”
Sundance is a key festival on the film circuit, kicking off the year with a bevy of awards hopefuls and buzzworthy movies. The 2020 festival—home to breakouts like Minari and The 40-Year-Old Version—was one of few that could be held in person before COVID-19 spread across the globe. After the pandemic, festivals like SXSW in March and Cannes in May had to be canceled. A few months later, festivals like Telluride, TIFF, and the New York Film Festival opted to go largely online, streaming offerings like Nomadland and Ammonite—and, for the most part, making this new path work as we head deeper into the reinvented awards season.
Sundance will have to follow those festivals’ lead, as it seems clear the pandemic won’t be under control in the U.S. by January. Next year’s Sundance, a seven-day festival, is set to take place from January 28 through February 3, 2021. The lineup has not yet been announced but will be shared later this month.
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