Editor's Note: On January 5, 2022, Sundance Film Festival announced that all in-person Utah events for the 2022 festival would be canceled due to the prevalence of the Omicron variant, although an ambitious virtual program is still planned. For up-to-the-minute information on how to enjoy Sundance this year, please visit sundance.org.
Last year, the Sundance Film Festival transformed into a virtual version of itself—shifting from frenzied mountain festival to online streaming platform. But in 2022, Sundance returns with a hybrid event that will be hosted in Park City, online, and at satellite screens in seven cities around the U.S. The festival runs January 20–30, with the in-person segment once again taking over Main Street January 20–25, promising a range of opportunities for people to experience its screens.
“We’re thrilled to be back in our home state of Utah for 2022 and are busy designing a number of special experiences and opportunities for locals,” Sundance Film Festival director Tabitha Jackson says. “The 2022 festival is not a return to form, but rather something new, adventurous, and entirely true to our spirit of accessible discovery—and that’s bound to feel slightly challenging as we try to prepare for every eventuality.”
Though the logistics may be challenging, discovering new films may prove easier with the new hybrid format, as last year’s streaming platform was both manageable and bingeable—not to mention the wait times were much shorter. The platform enables anyone to attend a Sundance screening for $20, the same cost as an in-person ticket. (Packages for multiple films start at $50 for digital and $750 for live.)
However, watching online is still a different experience than seeing movies on the big screen with an audience, no matter how long you have to wait in the cold beforehand. “I really missed those standing ovations and the feeling of being in the room when someone’s career is launched,” Jackson says. “I have a feeling that coming together to experience new work together will feel even more transformative this year.”
To gather safely, the Sundance team is setting health protocols for its in-person events: everyone attending the festival or festival-sanctioned events in Utah must be fully vaccinated, and masks will be required indoors. Jackson says they are focused on “making sure that this is a safe, rich, vibrant experience full of surprise and delight, whether you are participating from Main Street or from your living room.”
Sundance has evolved since its inception as a platform for indie and overlooked films away from the traditional locus of Hollywood, as the growing extravaganza of brands and media in recent years has overshadowed its homegrown mountain roots. The fact that it will stay broadly accessible through digital and dispersed screens may allow it to get back to its core mission of bringing more creative and experimental storytelling to more people. If you go in person, expect a return of the festival’s high energy and whirl of events—Jackson says she is looking forward to the “live audiences and the incredible energy that the Sundance community brings to the discovery of new work.”
What Jackson calls this year’s “immensely strong crop of submissions” will hopefully reflect many critical conversations of the past year and continue to broaden and deepen those conversations in years to come. There’s no one way to Sundance—and no way to watch all the movies on offer!—so grab your popcorn and celebrate storytelling in whatever form you choose.
Satellite locations for Sundance 2022
• Amherst, Massachusetts
• Winston-Salem, North Carolina
• Memphis, Tennessee
• Lawrence, Kansas
• San Diego, California
• Seattle, Washington
• Baltimore, Maryland
For more information,visit festival.sundance.org.