The lineup for the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, taking place on a Sundance-built and feature-rich online platform, goes well beyond feature and short films, episodic work and the VR/XR of New Frontier — it also encompasses a curated program of free special events, conversations and activations available to the global public. These Talks and Events, presented on the Sundance platform, include our new Opening Ceremony, Sundance Dailies, and The Big Conversation series, trademark gatherings at Cinema Café and the Power of Story, Awards Night and the concluding “It’s A Wrap” session. Additional partner programming will take place in a bustling digital Festival Village, which includes Main Street, Satellite Screens and the Artist Lounge. All talks and events are free to view globally. Sign up for an account at Festival.Sundance.org to access. All times are U.S. Mountain time.
SCHEDULED TALKS & EVENTS
2021 Sundance Film Festival Opening Night Welcome
Thursday, January 28, 5:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Audiences all over the world are invited to join us as we kick off the reimagined 2021 Sundance Film Festival and connect with the Sundance community in advance of experiencing the Festival program. During the Opening Ceremony, you can expect to hear from Festival Director Tabitha Jackson, celebrate Utah — our spiritual home — and see plenty of familiar faces from our Festival family.
The Sundance Dailies
Friday, January 29–Tuesday, February 2, 9:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
Your guided tour through the festival’s myriad happenings, The Sundance Dailies will roll out each morning with host Tabitha Jackson, Utah correspondent John Cooper, and an assortment of special guests. The Sundance Dailies is a fun and informal download of the day ahead and what you missed the day before. Guests include: Eugenio Derbez (CODA), Rebecca Hall (Passing), Ed Helms (Together Together), Zoe Lister-Jones and Daryl Wein (How It Ends), and more. Presented by Acura
Friday, January 29–Monday, February 1, 10:30 a.m.–11:15 a.m.
The doors are open again at Cinema Café. Here, the culture of conversation is reinvigorated. Our series of informal chats brings together special guests for thought-provoking encounters. Sometimes, the most fascinating conversations are the ones you didn’t expect. Presented by Audible
2021 Cinema Café guests will include:
Shaka King & Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson
Friday, January 29, 10:30 a.m.–11:15 a.m.
Sonia Manzano & Rita Moreno
Saturday, January 30, 10:30 a.m.–11:15 a.m.
Rebecca Hall & Robin Wright
Sunday, January 31, 10:30 a.m.–11:15 a.m.
Tyson Brown, Patti Harrison & Emilia Jones
Monday, February 1, 10:30 a.m.–11:15am
The Big Conversation
Friday, January 29–Monday, February 1, 1:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m., individual slots TBA
The Big Conversation tackles science, art, culture, and the movements that are fueling the imaginations of today’s independent artists. A compelling selection of speakers discuss topics centered on the themes of this year’s program and explore broader trends in art and culture around the world. In considering how artists—through their practice and their work—make meaning of the world, we’re reminded that it’s the big conversation that connects us to the big ideas.
Barbed Wire Kisses Redux
The year 1992 was a watershed one for LGBTQ+ film, giving birth to the term “New Queer Cinema” and introducing a revolutionary generation of films and filmmakers with energetic irreverence and disruptive aesthetics. At the 1992 Sundance Film Festival, B. Ruby Rich convened and moderated a panel of preeminent artists (including the late Derek Jarman) to discuss their work and the historic moment of its emergence. This year, Rich and other LGBTQ+ titans gather 30 years later to look back and imagine forward in this contemporary edition of Barbed Wire Kisses.
Moderator B. Ruby Rich (Editor, Film Quarterly; Author, New Queer Cinema: The Director’s Cut); guests Andrew Ahn (Spa Night), Gregg Araki (The Living End), Lisa Cholodenko (High Art), Cheryl Dunye (The Watermelon Woman), Silas Howard (By Hook or By Crook), Isaac Julien (Young Soul Rebels) and Rose Troche (Go Fish).
That the first image of a black hole was achieved through a global network of synchronized radio observatories shows what humans can accomplish when we come together. Beyond astronomy and across a myriad of fields—from space exploration and climatology to bioscience and virology (as the pandemic plainly illustrates)—science and technology are propelled by collaboration, cooperation, and the breaking of barriers. We explore, through the lens of film and television, what that cooperation means for human knowledge and our mutual survival.
Moderator Janna Levin (Tow Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Barnard College); guests Scott Z. Burns (writer, Contagion; writer & director, The Report), Leland Melvin (engineer and retired NASA astronaut), and more TBA. Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
The Past In the Present: A Personal Journey through Race, History, and Filmmaking
“History is not the past, it’s the present.” James Baldwin’s words reverberate throughout Raoul Peck’s work, his activism, and his remarkable filmmaking career. Peck joins Festival director Tabitha Jackson in a conversation about white supremacy, history, creative expression, and his personal journey from the Academy Award–nominated I Am Not Your Negro to his upcoming work Exterminate All the Brutes, which interrogates over 600 years of history, from the Native American genocide, to the systemized enslavement of Africans, to Hitler’s extermination of the European Jews—a history to which our present is inextricably bound.
Power of Story
The Sundance Film Festival’s Power of Story looks to deepen public engagement with storytelling, delve into cinema culture, and celebrate artists whose work propels the form and reinvents storytelling as we know it. As we contemplate this futurescape of storytelling, we explore how revolutionary narrative experiences will reshape culture through the transformations in artistic discovery, emerging media, and the reassertion of independence. Presented by Netflix
Power of Story: Speculative Fiction Is the Place
“Speculative thought is important, and unless you are doing speculative thought, you are not doing any thought at all.” —C.L.R. James
Black speculative fiction and historiography, Afrofuturism, and utopian/dystopian visions speak to an enduring, evolving, and vibrant storytelling sensibility. They also speak to the many generations of Black artists whose practice and work—across music, cinema, literature, design, fashion and other arts—re-envision the future. A group of artists reflects on storytelling forms that reframe Black experiences through imagined or alternative narratives connecting the people, technology, culture, and collective memory of the African diaspora.
Moderator Jacqueline Stewart (Chief Artistic and Programming Officer, Academy Museum and TCM Host); guests TBA.
Conjuring the Collective: Womxn at Sundance Speakeasy
Saturday, Jan 30, 2021, 8:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m.
Join us for an evening of dynamic performance and energizing conversation. Continuing our tradition of gathering and celebrating the womxn in our Festival community, this year’s event will reclaim the idea of a coven as a source of magic, healing, and power.
We’ve devised a virtual speakeasy featuring performances from an array of talented womxn from the Festival and beyond, honoring a multiplicity of perspectives through our myths and stories, dance, art, music, and culture. Theater directors nicHi douglas and Annie Tippe collaborate to create unique ways to bring womxn together to creatively respond to an intentional prompt for 2021. So light a candle, prepare a nightcap, and settle into Conjuring the Collective!
Poet Apiorkor, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison (Ailey), actor Rita Moreno (Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided to Go For It), actor SOKO (Mayday, The Blazing World), and more TBA.
Tuesday, February 2, 6:00 p.m.
Tune in to the 2021 Sundance Film Festival’s Awards Night Ceremony to see which projects were selected for juried and audience awards. Free and open to all, the event will be live-streamed on our online screening platform—join us (and some very special presenters) to see who takes home top prizes in the Festival’s competition categories.
It’s A Wrap
Wednesday, February 3, 9:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
Before feasting your eyes on the award-winning films from this season, finish off your Sundance Film Festival experience by looking back on the Festival that was. Festival director Tabitha Jackson leads a ceremonial end to this all-new Sundance experience by bringing audiences together for one last moment together in the virtual space.
Festival Village is at the epicenter of our community. Along our bustling Main Street and inside our Satellite Screens, you can catch the latest events and offerings from our partners and collaborators. And in the Artist Lounge, we’ll serve up a daily dose of creative inspiration as well as special events for filmmakers and independent storytellers of all stripes—open to all, no badge required.
MAIN STREET: Park City’s Main Street has always been the beating heart of the Festival. As we’ve reimagined the Festival with 2021 in mind, Main Street is as vital as ever in providing our online audience with the chance to experience exciting conversations, events, and other unexpected surprises together. We are grateful to our incredible community of Festival sponsors, nonprofit partners, foundations, and host state, Utah, for helping to recreate and preserve the magic of Main Street in this new format. We encourage you to explore our partners’ activities as they bring new programming to the Festival each day. See all confirmed partner programming here, and select programs below.
ASCAP Music Café
Friday, January 29–Monday, February 1, 3 p.m. onward, daily
ASCAP Music Café returns to a new virtual venue in the Festival Village, marking its 23rd year celebrating the union of music and film. From January 29 – February 1, the Café will feature two days of musical performances from acclaimed talent and rising stars; another dedicated to VERSED: The ASCAP Podcast/ Screen Time conversations with top ASCAP composers and collaborators from around the globe; and a final day showcasing a handpicked selection of unforgettable performances from the Sundance ASCAP Music Café archives. More information can be found here.
Ignite Day, Presented by Adobe
Monday, February 1st
A day of free events for young artists and Festival attendees hosted by Sundance Ignite, Sundance Institute’s program for Artist and Audiences 18-25 years-old. Ignite Day will include:
- A morning panel exploring storytelling traditions from historically marginalized communities as manifested through film and television and the business and craft of preserving narrative sovereignty in practice, especially among younger storytellers.
- A screening of short films from this year’s Sundance Ignite x Adobe Fellows, followed by a brief Q&A with the filmmakers.
- Networking events exclusive to audiences 18-25 years old.
SATELLITE SCREENS: This year, audiences are invited to join via our Satellite Screens, a constellation of mission-driven arthouse cinemas, arts organizations, drive-ins, and pop-ups. Through online experiences and in-person programming (as local health and safety guidelines allow), Satellite Screens will introduce our 2021 Festival features as well as locally curated presentations.
ARTIST LOUNGE: In the Artist Lounge, Sundance is serving up a daily dose of creative inspiration for independent filmmakers and storytellers. Join the creative community for talks and events, daily meet-and-greets, Q&As with 2021 Festival artists, and so much more. Schedule to follow.
Photo credit: Rita Moreno by Austin Hargrave; Questlove and Robin Wright courtesy of Sundance Institute