Is the Sundance 2022 New Frontier the Future of Film Festivals

The future of film festivals may have arrived. Set to begin on January 20th, 2022, the Sundance Film Festival has revealed details regarding the 2022 New Frontier program and an initiative to innovate the hybrid festival model and may I dare say advance the potential for future film festival models around the world. Always striving to connect audiences and artists and ignite new ideas, what less can we expect from the leading independent film festival. This year the Sundance Film Festival invites audiences around the world to participate in the 2022 Sundance Film Festival from the comfort of their own home while simultaneously connecting with in person attendees at the Sundance Film Festival’s physical Park City location.

Partnering with creative studio Active Theory, the 2022 edition of the Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier section combines a newly conceived, free-to-access venue in Park City called The Craft with a fully biodigital showcase available to be experienced remotely through a WebXR virtual venue deemed The Spaceship.

New Frontier The  Craft = Physical Park City venue

New Frontier The Spaceship = WebXR virtual venue

The Biodigital Bridge Connecting Sundance Virtual Festivalgoers with In-Person Attendees

Virtual festival attendees will be able to access entry to The Spaceship via their laptop or a VR headset. Once inside The Spaceship, virtual festival attendees will be able to  interact and communicate with festival goers who will be located in The Craft. Together, both physical festivalgoers and virtual viewers will be able to watch programs and performances in an immersive arthouse theater. This Biodigital Bridge allows festival attendees, both on the ground in Park City and online to interact with each other. and will establish the Sundance Film Festival as a festival within the metaverse overlaying the physical event with a virtual one.

“Since the earliest stages of planning ’22, we’ve centered access and learnings from past iterations,” said Shari Frilot, senior programmer and New Frontier chief curator. “After the  ’21 festival, we realized that presenting the work online effectively took one of the hottest, hardest-to-access experiences of prior Festivals and made it instantly and globally accessible to anyone with the right tech. New Frontier this year prioritizes biodigital design as a very adventurous endeavor, and one that speaks to the priorities of its creators, artists and audiences.”

What’s Inside the Sundance New Frontier Spaceship

The New Frontier Spaceship at the Sundance Film Festival will be a virtual venue globally accessible January 20-28 via laptop or VR headset. Primarily The Spaceship will act as a venue to showcase the complete 2022 New Frontier lineup of XR work. The Spaceship will also act as a venue featuring live streaming, room-scale address and chat functionalities.

The New Frontier Spaceship will act as the virtual home for the Artist Spotlight, a programmed series designed to enable artists to represent their projects in person at The Craft in Park City and online within The Spaceship’s Cinema House.

Sundance New Frontier Virtual Film Party

Another possible ground breaking moment in film industry history, The Spaceship will also act as a virtual social space allowing audiences to inhabit avatars for organic, proximity-based, person-to-person webcam chat and connection.  The Film Party will be dedicated to film premiere parties that will follow online premieres and live Q&As. This engagement will bring filmmakers together with their online audiences to celebrate their films in both halves of the festival.

The 2022 Sundance Film Festival takes place January 20th – January 30th 2022. The New Frontier will be open from January 20th – January 25th.