After pivoting its 2021 event into a successful hybrid version, the Sundance Film Festival is preparing to do the same for its 2022 edition, which has today been announced to take place January 20 – 30, 2022. Per an official release, the festival will again take place both in-person and online. The festival adds that its teams “are in the process of designing a safe and accessible Festival where our audiences and artists can come together to celebrate and discover new work, and each other.”
Last June, as the coronavirus pandemic continued to rage across the world, the festival rolled out an innovative hybrid plan to ensure both the existence of a pared-down in-person element and a robust online hub for the virtual attendance of those unable to travel to Park City, Utah.
While other festivals opted to go entirely virtual or postpone their physical editions altogether, heavy hitters like TIFF and Sundance both mounted events that offered both physical and virtual components. Both festivals ultimately went the hybrid route, with TIFF unspooling last September and Sundance offering up its event in late January and early February.
Sundance’s 2021 program was accessible through a custom-built virtual platform, with screenings that used the Shift72 player that’s become an industry standard for virtual film festivals. “This whole festival feels like a prototype of some kind,” newly installed Sundance director Tabitha Jackson told IndieWire earlier this year. “It’s a grand experiment.”
As IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote after the festival, even as a mostly virtual affair, the festival was a success, particularly thanks to its winning online platform. “Three-hour windows for films meant viewers could peruse the program without fear of scheduling overlaps or delayed shuttle buses,” he wrote. “The streaming platform, designed by an in-house team that used virtual festival powerhouse Shift72 as its player (the company that also designed virtual solutions in 2020 for SXSW, NYFF, and TIFF), never crashed in the middle of a premiere. No reports of piracy. Industry professionals and passionate amateurs could dig through the lineup; critics could review it.”
While the 2021 experiment involved both a shorter festival run (just seven days) and fewer films, today’s 2022 date announcement reveals that one thing is getting back to normal: the festival will now return to its more traditional 10-day run.
As the world continues to battle the pandemic, there are plenty of signs of life in the festival world. Cannes will again return to the Croisette this year, though in July instead of May. The Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Czech Republic currently plans to hold a physical festival July 2 – 10, while the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland has August 4 – 14 on the calendar. Before all of that, Tribeca will host its own in-person event (though with an eye toward outdoor events) in June.
Sundance plans to have more details to announce this summer.