2021 Sundance Film Festival Will Meet Audiences Where They Are

Festival Offers Robust Online Platform and Announces Screening Partnerships with Independent Cinemas and Cultural Organizations

 

PARK CITY, UTAH — 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. 

 

“Even under these impossible circumstances artists are still finding paths to make bold and vital work in whatever ways they can,” says Tabitha Jackson, in her first year as Festival Director. “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,” 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.”

 

FEATURE FILMS

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.

 

SHORT FILM, INDIE SERIES PROGRAMS

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. 

 

NEW FRONTIER

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. 

 

SATELLITE SCREENS

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.

 

“These partners are the backbone of independent artistic communities across the country, where filmmakers are born and cinephiles are developed,” said Jackson. “We’re entering these partnerships because a healthy ecosystem for artists and audiences requires that independent cinemas across the country survive and thrive.”

 

Programming details for films at these screens will be available when the program is announced later this month, and these plans will evolve in conjunction with the COVID-19 pandemic health and safety guidelines. Participating U.S. partner organizations and locations include: 

 

Alabama: Birmingham with Sidewalk Film Festival

Sidewalk Film Center, Sidewalk Drive-In

Arizona: Tucson with The Loft Cinema

The Loft Open Air Cinema 

 

California: 

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

 

Florida:

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

 

Georgia: 

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

 

Tennessee:      

Memphis with Indie Memphis

Malco Summer Drive-In

Nashville with Belcourt Theatre  

Belcourt Theatre

 

Texas: 

Austin with Austin Film Society

AFS Cinema

Dallas with Aviation Cinemas

Texas Theatre

Houston with Houston Cinema Arts Society

MoonStruck Drive-In, DeLUXE Theater

 

Utah: 

Park City

The Ray

Salt Lake City with Salt Lake Film Society

 

Washington: 

 

Seattle with Northwest Film Forum

 

THE PLATFORM:

One of the fundamental values of the Festival is gathering: it’s a place where a global community of independent artists can convene for a generative and open exchange of ideas. This year, that will take place on the platform’s Festival Village, a free-to-all space where Satellite Screens, partners, and Festival sponsors will host a wide range of events, programming, and offerings to complement and enrich the official program. The platform’s Main Street will act as both an homage to the iconic Park City thoroughfare and as an extension of the Festival’s core programming, featuring digital partner spaces hosting conversations, musical performances, and more. The Artist Lounge will feature a space for creators to gather for artist programming, as well as for the Festival’s Class of ’21 to network and celebrate at private events.

 

TICKETING DETAILS

Tickets and passes for those who want to experience the Festival for the full run, a single day, or a single screening will be available to the general public beginning January 7; further details will be available later this month. For more information, sign up at Festival.Sundance.org.

 

The Sundance Film Festival®

The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale Station, WhiplashBrooklynPreciousThe CoveLittle Miss SunshineAn Inconvenient TruthNapoleon DynamiteHedwig and the Angry InchReservoir Dogs, and sex, lies, and videotape. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute. 2021 Festival sponsors to date include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, SundanceTV, Chase Sapphire, Adobe; Leadership Sponsors – Amazon Studios, AT&T,  DoorDash, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom Group, Southwest Airlines® , WarnerMedia; Sustaining Sponsors – AMC, Audible, Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Dell Technologies, Documentary Plus, GEICO, IMDbPro, Stella Artois® , Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health, White Claw Hard Seltzer, Zoom; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, NPR, Variety, Vulture, The Wall Street Journal. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. sundance.org/festival

 

 

Sundance Institute

As a champion and curator of independent stories for the stage and screen, the nonprofit Sundance Institute provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theater, film composing, and digital media to create and thrive. Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, the Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs which are dedicated to developing new work and take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally, are supported largely through contributed revenue. Sundance Co//ab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance Advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes AlwaysZola, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, HoneylandOne Child NationThe Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale StationCity So Real, Top of the Lake, Between the World & Me, Wild Goose Dreams and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube.

 

The Films:

 

Censor / United Kingdom (Director: Prano Bailey-Bond, Screenwriters: Prano Bailey-Bond, Anthony Fletcher, Producer: Helen Jones) — When film censor Enid discovers an eerie horror that speaks directly to her sister’s mysterious disappearance, she resolves to unravel the puzzle behind the film and its enigmatic director – a quest blurring the lines between fiction and reality in terrifying ways. Cast: Niamh Algar, Nicholas Burns, Vincent Franklin, Sophia La Porta, Adrian Schiller, Michael Smiley. World Premiere.

 

The Most Beautiful Boy in the World / Sweden (Directors: Kristina Lindström, Kristian Petri, Producer: Stina Gardell) — Swedish actor/musician Björn Andresen’s life was forever changed at the age of 15, when he played Tadzio, the object of Dirk Bogarde’s obsession in Death in Venice – a role which led Italian maestro Luchino Visconti to dub him “the world’s most beautiful boy.” World Premiere

 

Cryptozoo / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Dash Shaw, Producers: Kyle Martin, Jane Samborski, Bill Way, Tyler Davidson) — As cryptozookeepers struggle to capture a Baku (a legendary dream-eating hybrid creature) they begin to wonder if they should display these rare beasts in the confines of a cryptozoo, or if these mythical creatures should remain hidden and unknown. Cast: Lake Bell, Michael Cera, Angeliki Papoulia, Zoe Kazan, Peter Stormare, Grace Zabriskie. World Premiere

 

In The Earth / United Kingdom (Director and Screenwriter: Ben Wheatley, Producer: Andy Starke) — As a disastrous virus grips the planet, a scientist and a park scout venture deep into the forest for a routine equipment run. Through the night, their journey becomes a terrifying voyage through the heart of darkness as the forest comes to life around them. Cast: Joel Fry, Ellora Torchia, Hayley Squires, Reece Shearsmith. World Premiere, Narrative

 

R#J / U.S.A. (Director: Carey Williams, Screenwriters: Carey Williams, Rickie Castaneda, Alex Sobolev, Producers: Timur Bekmambetov, Igor Tsay, John J. Kelly, Alex Sobolev, Anna Soboleva) — A re-imagining of Romeo and Juliet, taking place through their cell phones, in a mash-up of Shakespearean dialogue with current social media communication. Cast: Camaron Engels, Francesca Noel, David Zayas, Diego Tinoco, Siddiq Saunderson, Russell Hornsby. World Premiere

 

Passing / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Rebecca Hall, Producers: Forest Whitaker, Nina Yang Bongiovi, Margot Hand, Rebecca Hall) — Two African-American women who can “pass” as white choose to live on opposite sides of the color line in 1929 New York in an exploration of racial and gender identity, performance, obsession and repression. Based on the novella by Nella Larsen. Cast: Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, André Holland, Alexander Skarsgård, Bill Camp. World Premiere

 

Misha and the Wolves / United Kingdom, Belgium (Director and Screenwriter: Sam Hobkinson, Producers: Poppy Dixon, Al Morrow, Matthew Wells, Gregory Zalcman, Jürgen Buedts) — A woman’s Holocaust memoir takes the world by storm, but a fallout with her publisher-turned-detective reveals her story as an audacious deception created to hide a darker truth. World Premiere

 

Hive / Kosovo, Switzerland, Macedonia, Albania (Director and Screenwriter: Blerta Basholli, Producers: Yll Uka, Valon Bajgora, Agon Uka) — Fahrije’s husband has been missing since the war in Kosovo. She sets up her own small business to provide for her kids, but as she fights against a patriarchal society that does not support her, she faces a crucial decision: to wait for his return, or to continue to persevere. Cast: Yllka Gashi, Çun Lajçi, Aurita Agushi, Kumrije Hoxha, Adriana Matoshi, Kaona Sylejmani. World Premiere.

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Jockey / U.S.A. (Director: Clint Bentley, Screenwriters: Clint Bentley, Greg Kwedar, Producers: Clint Bentley, Greg Kwedar, Nancy Schafer) — An aging jockey is determined to win one last championship, but his dream is complicated when a young rookie shows up claiming to be his son. Cast: Clifton Collins Jr., Molly Parker, Moises Arias. World Premiere

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Mother Schmuckers / Belgium (Directors and Screenwriters: Lenny Guit, Harpo Guit, Producers: David Borgeaud, Erika Meda) — Issachar & Zabulon, two brothers in their twenties, are supremely stupid and never bored, as madness is part of their daily lives. When they lose their mother’s beloved dog, they have 24 hours to find it – or she will kick them out. Cast: Harpo Guit, Maxi Delmelle, Claire Bodson, Mathieu Amalric, Habib Ben Tanfous. World Premiere

 

Coming Home in the Dark / New Zealand (Director: James Ashcroft, Screenwriters: Eli Kent, James Ashcroft, Producers: Mike Minogue, Catherine Fitzgerald, Desray Armstrong) — A family’s outing descends into terror when teacher Alan Hoaganraad, his wife Jill and stepsons Maika and Jordon explore an isolated coastline. An unexpected meeting with a pair of drifters, the enigmatic psychopath Mandrake and his accomplice Tubs, thrusts the family into a nightmare when they find themselves captured. Cast: Daniel Gillies, Erik Thomson, Miriama McDowell, Matthias Luafutu. World Premiere

 

Life in a Day 2020 / United Kingdom, U.S.A. (Director: Kevin Macdonald, Producers: Jack Arbuthnott, Tim Partridge) — An extraordinary, intimate, global portrait of life on our planet, filmed by thousands of people across the world, on a single day: 25th July 2020. World Premiere

 

Philly D.A. / U.S.A. (Created By: Ted Passon, Yoni Brook, Nicole Salazar, Producers: Ted Passon, Yoni Brook, Nicole Salazar, Josh Penn, Michael Gottwald) — A groundbreaking inside look at the long shot election and tumultuous first term of Larry Krasner, Philadelphia’s unapologetic District Attorney, and his experiment to upend the criminal justice system from the inside out. World Premiere, Episodic Documentary

 

Night of the Kings / France, Ivory Coast, Canada, Senegal (Director and Screenwriter: Philippe Lacôte, Producers: Delphine Jaquet, Yanick Létourneau, Ernest Konan, Yoro Mbaye) — A young man is sent to La Maca, a prison on the Ivory Coast in the middle of the forest ruled by its prisoners. With the red moon rising, he is designated by the Boss to be the new “Roman” and must tell a story to the other prisoners. Cast: Koné Bakary, Steve Tientcheu, Digbeu Jean Cyrille, Rasmané Ouédraogo, Issaka Sawadogo, Denis Lavant.