Sundance Film Festival Press Welcome

January 21, 2022
2022 Sundance Festival Director Tabitha Jackson. Photo courtesy Sundance Institute.

Yesterday morning I had the privilege of virtually attending the 2022 Sundance Film Festival Press Welcome, and it did not disappoint.  Sundance runs virtually this year from 1/20/22 to 1/30/22.

The press conference was led by the intelligent and impressive Tabitha Jackson, the Festival Director.  She addressed the recent move to go to a virtual only festival after they had been planning a combination in person and online festival for nearly a year.

I very much applaud their decision, as covid is still among us after all these months; having contacted a mild case myself after going to an out-of-town sporting event recently.   It must not have been easy to give up their plans just a few weeks before the festival started, but I believe they made a good and wise decision.

Ms. Jackson mentioned that since they already had the apparatus set up for a partially virtual festival, they were able to convert Sundance to an entirely online festival.  They also have seven satellite screens where you can watch films in person in various places throughout the US.

Apparently, the pandemic has not dampened talented independent filmmakers’ output in the least.  They had a very healthy number of submissions this year, with themes often focusing on the environment, climate, Latin American and indigenous populations issues, reproductive rights, etc.  The team discussed how the artists are creatively adapting to the restrictions of the pandemic, using 3D technology, virtual reality, and other innovations to carry out their creative visions.

In addition, the Sundance team discussed the very exciting New Frontier Spaceship, a virtual reality invention where festival goers can enter a virtual reality and experience films, parties, events, talks, etc. almost as if they were there in person.  It had me rushing out the Best Buy to get the latest VR headset. I can’t wait to play around in this new dimension!

Ms. Jackson mentioned that ticket sales are “brisk and healthy,” and she also emphasized the importance of a film festival celebrating the freedom of expression, joy, and talent of independent filmmakers of all stripes.  “This is the moment,” she said, where as a culture, we all share a look at what is going on in the independent filmmaking milieu.  The innovation and uniqueness of this culturally iconic film festival cannot be overstated.

Sundance runs from 1/20/22 to 1/30/22, and tickets are still available.  Visit sundance.org for more information and tickets.  They have short films, feature film premieres, documentaries, workshops, parties, the virtual reality opportunities, and many other activities.  It can be overwhelming but pace yourself and pick your events and films carefully.  Unfortunately, we can all only be at one place, virtual reality or no, at one time.  I just wish I could experience everything Sundance has to offer.

It should be noted that there is also a terrific Sundance Institute You Tube channel where you can watch countless videos about the festival and the history of Sundance itself.  Visit youtube.com/sundancefilmfestival/videos to explore what they have to offer.

You can also find several interviews online with the original founder of Sundance, Robert Redford.  That is a fascinating story in and of itself.  Mr. Redford turned his earnings from his earlier film career into protecting this beautiful area of Utah.  He also developed the film festival from an early tiny festival with one theatre, into the world-wide influence it enjoys today.  If you ever doubt the difference one individual can make, it’s people like Mr. Redford that will renew your faith in humanity’s power and purpose.  He has made a major impact on our culture, raised awareness for environment issues, and had a huge influence in the film industry, in addition to his long and highly successful acting and directing career.  Bravo, Mr. Redford!

I will be covering more Sundance events and films here; stay tuned.  Now I’ve got to go learn to use my new virtual reality headset!

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