For the first time ever, you won’t need an airplane ticket, snow boots or a parka to attend the Sundance Film Festival, the largest domestic independent film festival, traditionally held in Park City, Utah. A last-minute decision to take the festival from a hybrid model to completely virtual (thanks, omicron) means film lovers now have the option to select among the Sundance’s 82 feature films, plus Q&As, talent panels and virtual reality programming, enjoying the spoils from the blizzard-free comfort of their sofas — starting Thursday, Jan. 20. Whether you opt for a single film, buy a package or hold out until the smoke passes for a selection of the best of the bunch in a two-day awards sprint, Sundance is literally at your fingertips, starting here.
How to attend Sundance Film Festival 2022 online
The festival has gone out of its way to ensure a positive online experience. Start here to test-drive the experience. Make sure you’re using a compatible browser — Chrome, Firefox 47+, Safari, Edge or Opera. There’s also an exclusive Sundance Film Festival app with detailed instructions, and tickets are on sale now, right here. Here’s the lowdown on the packages, with some counsel on what might fit you best.
Splurge: Festival Package ($750)
This is the Mercedes S-Class of passes. It’s valid in the United States from Jan. 20-30 and entitles the owner to 10 tickets, award-winner screenings and the Explorer Pass (described below).
Smart Splurge: Awards Only Package ($300)
For those attending the festival in person over the years, it’s always a journey of discovery. And by that I mean you gotta kiss a lot of frogs to get to Little Miss Sunshine, Moonlight, or this year’s awards contenders, Coda and Mass. Leave the sifting to the experts and still get a bountiful number of films available at the end of the festival, on Jan. 29 and 30. You get eight award-winner tickets as well as the Explorer Pass (described below).
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Day Trip: Day Package ($100)
Attendees gain access to a single day from Jan. 22 to 28. That's four tickets in one day (really as much as I can ever consume in a festival day without succumbing to emotional overload), plus the advantages of the Explorer Pass (described below).
Investigate the Fringe: Explorer Pass ($50)
Even through the portal, viewers can wander off the beaten path throughout the entire festival. This pass, the only one available to international viewers, includes selections in the New Frontier, Indie Episodic and Short Film programs.
Catch a Flick: Single Film Ticket ($20)
The chosen film will be at a specific day and time — and you’ll forever be able to say you attended Sundance with the cool kids. (You can apply your single ticket to the award-winner screenings.)
Six movies to put at the top of your Sundance Film Festival 2022 watch list
The world premiere of a documentary about a Florida dance troupe of over-60s who see a second coming-of-age period in retirement worth dancing about in this life-affirming story.
Check it out: Calendar Girls
Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker Christine Choy, 70, is the subject of this world competition documentary. She interviews a trio of exiled dissidents who survived the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre — including never-before-seen footage she shot for her abandoned film on the subject.
Check it out: The Exiles
When You Finish Saving the World
Julianne Moore, 61, plays the domestic-violence-shelter-running mother of a folk-singing teen (Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard) in this family dramedy from Jesse Eisenberg in his directorial debut. Moore also produced.
Check it out: When You Finish Saving the World
Award-winning Carol writer and director Phyllis Nagy, 59, cast Elizabeth Banks, 47, in the lead in a period drama set in 1968 Chicago. If follows one ordinary woman’s encounter with the Jane Collective, the underground network of abortion services organized by community women. Sigourney Weaver, 72, also stars.
Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul
Regina Hall, 51, pairs off with Sterling K. Brown, 45, for a broad satire on Southern Baptist megachurches and their leaders, written and directed by Adamma Ebo and produced by her twin, Adanne, based on their short film.
A Love Song
Native American Wes Studi, 74, and Dale Dickey, 60, star in Max Walker-Silverman’s mountain-set romance about widowed, long-separated childhood crushes who get a second chance to connect for a night in the wilderness.
Check it out: A Love Song
Coming to a theater (maybe?) near you!
Even though the festival itself is entirely virtual, some films will be rolling in person from Jan. 28 to 30 at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival Satellite Screens, which includes: a/perture cinema (Winston-Salem, North Carolina), Amherst Cinema (Amherst, Massachusetts), Digital Gym Cinema (San Diego), Indie Memphis (Memphis, Tennessee), mama.film (Lawrence, Kansas), Northwest Film Forum (Seattle) and SNF Parkway Theatre, home of the Maryland Film Festival (Baltimore).
Be independent, stay safe and join the virtual festival herd.
Thelma M. Adams, the former film critic for Us Weekly and the New York Post, is a novelist who writes on film for AARP, The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.