If you're a film fan, there's no better way to start a year than with a trip to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The fest boasts one of the most immersive and enjoyable atmospheres, set against glorious mountainscapes, parties, pressers, and the occasional snowstorm.

This year, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, things are going to look much different. Today, the festival announced changes to its usual format.

The festival will have an abbreviated one-week run, lasting Jan. 28 through Feb. 3, 2021.

Films will be shown on a new online portal as well as in drive-ins, arthouse theaters around the U.S., and other local locations.

All films will be available online in the U.S., and select films will be available internationally. Everyone will get access to the talks and events program and the New Frontier program.

In a statement on Dec. 2, festival director Tabitha Jackson expressed enthusiasm for the new format.

"Even under these impossible circumstances artists are still finding paths to make bold and vital work in whatever ways they can," Jackson said. "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."

Sundance 2012'Red Hook Summer' Q&A at The Eccles TheatreCredit: Jonathan Hickerson

The films

Day One films will debut Thursday, Jan. 28, at 6 p.m. MT. The rest of the 70+ feature films will premiere online in a dedicated time slot, followed by a live Q&A. Films will premiere simultaneously roughly every three hours from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. MT.

It's clear the festival is trying to preserve the feel of an in-person event, with overlapping films forcing a festivalgoer to make choices about what films to screen, the timed screenings, and the live Q&As afterward.

All films will return to the online portal two days after the premiere for a second screening. They will be on demand for 24 hours.

The shorts program and indie series program will be on demand for the duration of the festival.

The locations

What about those theaters participating across the U.S.? Sundance has gathered an amazing network of smaller, independent cinemas to participate as additional screening locations for those who want larger-scale viewings.

The list of participating theaters is below.


  • Birmingham with Sidewalk Film Festival: Sidewalk Film Center, Sidewalk Drive-In


  • Tucson with The Loft Cinema: The Loft Open Air Cinema


  • Montclair with American Cinematheque: Mission Tiki Drive-In
  • Pasadena with the Rose Bowl Stadium: Rose Bowl Drive-In
  • San Francisco with The Roxie Theater: Roxie Theater, Fort Mason Drive-In


  • Denver with Denver Film: Sie FilmCenter


  • 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


  •  Atlanta with Atlanta Film Society: The Plaza Theater, Plaza Drive-In, Dad’s Garage Drive-In
  • Macon with Macon Film Festival: Douglass Theatre


  • Honolulu with Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Art (HoMA)


  • Iowa City with FilmScene: FilmScene at The Chauncey


  • Wichita with mama.film: mama.film microcinema, Wichita Art Museum, Groover Labs


  • Louisville with The Speed Art Museum: Speed Art Museum


  • New Orleans with New Orleans Film Society: The Broad Theater


  • Baltimore with Maryland Film Festival: Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway Theater


  • Brookline with Coolidge Corner Theatre: Coolidge Corner Theatre


  • Detroit with Cinema Detroit


  • Minneapolis-St. Paul with FilmNorth: Riverview Theater

New York:

  • Pleasantville with Jacob Burns Film Center: Jacob Burns Film Center & Media Arts Lab


  • Columbus with Gateway Film Center: Gateway Film Center


  • Tulsa with Circle Cinema: the Circle Cinema, Circle Cinema Drive-In, Admiral Twin Drive-In, Philbrook Museum, OSU-Tulsa, Tulsa University, Gilcrease Museum


  • 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


  • Memphis with Indie Memphis: Malco Summer Drive-In
  • Nashville with Belcourt Theatre: Belcourt Theatre


  • Austin with Austin Film Society: AFS Cinema
  • Dallas with Aviation Cinemas: Texas Theatre
  • Houston with Houston Cinema Arts Society: MoonStruck Drive-In, DeLUXE Theater


  • Park City: The Ray
  • Salt Lake City with Salt Lake Film Society


  • Seattle with Northwest Film Forum


Tickets and passes will be available to the public on Jan. 7. You can buy a pass for the full festival run, a single day, or a single screening. Further details will be available later this month.

For more information, head on over to the Sundance website.