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2021 Sundance Film Festival
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The show must go on: 2021 Sundance Film Festival goes virtual

FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, file photo, the Egyptian Theatre is lit up on Main Street during the first night of the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP, File)

PARK CITY, Utah — The film festival that draws thousands of tourists to Utah every year is adapting to the reality of COVID-19 and making the most of it. Today officials from the Sundance Film Festival, the two-week festival located in Park City, outlined how they plan to proceed with the 2021 event amid the pandemic. 

“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.

Instead of people flocking to Park City for Sundance, the festival is taking itself to moviegoers virtually. So this year, anyone around the nation, and in some instances globally, will be able to enjoy the featured films, the festival directors said in a statement Wednesday.  

“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.

The specifics of  the virtual 2021 Sundance Film Festival 

One of the biggest changes to the Sundance schedule is its duration.  It will only last seven days instead of two weeks. The festival will take place from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3, 2021. 

However, much of the schedule will remain the same. As usual, the first film screening will begin at 6 p.m. MST on Jan. 28. Multiple film showings will premiere simultaneously roughly every three hours from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m MST on Sundance’s online platform. 

Each of Sundance’s 70+ feature films will premiere online in a dedicated time slot, followed by a live question and answer session. 

Additionally, all movies featured at the Festival will be available for viewing on the online platform two days after they premiere. They will remain viewable for 24 hours.

And a first for the Festival the year  — the entire lineup will be closed-captioned, including question and answer sessions with directors, writers, and actors.

To bring festivalgoers together, at a distance, Sundance organized program screenings at The Ray in Park City and the Rose Bowl and Mission Tiki Drive-Ins in Los Angeles. And for the first time, attendees around the world will be able to engage with the works, the artists, and each other through a computer or virtual reality headset. 

Tickets go on sale for the full festival, single days, or single screenings on Jan. 7, 2021. More details on purchasing tickets will be available toward the end of December 2020.