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Sundance Film Festival 2021, an edition that combines the live and virtual experience of cinema.
Sundance Film Festival 2021 will be an edition that combines the live and virtual experience of cinema.

Sundance 2021 begins today with a more affordable, but "downgraded" production

Sundance Film Festival 2021 begins with 70 films instead of 118 and incredibly cheap tickets. What other surprises can be found in its first virtual edition?

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During the coronavirus pandemic, the cultural world has been forced to cancel many of the year's most-anticipated events, postpone dates and rethink formatting.

In this uncertain year, The Sundance Film Festival has chosen to offer its audience a wide variety of online programming that tries to maintain the spirit of the festival from the living room in addition to maintaining a limited in-person screening.

What are the adjustments the festival has made for this year?

To begin, the length of the festival has been reduced from 11 to seven days. This year's edition will run from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3.

The number of films has also been reduced, the usual slate is 120 films, but will be 72 this year from 29 different countries — including five Latin American films — 50 short films and four episodic pieces.

The entire program is available virtually through the festival's website and can be accessed in the United States and other parts of the world. All that's needed are the credentials for the festival, for a full day, for a film or in "Explorer" mode. 

Some tickets are already sold out, but are also at a reduced cost, with prices starting at $15.

In addition to the online programming, the Sundance Film Festival has partnered with 25 independent movie theaters and some drive-in theaters in the United States to organize in-person screenings. The idea is that every film in the program will be screened at least once, always respecting safety standards within the context of COVID-19.

To maintain the festival spirit, the edition will also have conversations with directors and producers, roundtables with participating artists, and music rooms.

The program will be accessible through a custom-made virtual platform, with screenings using the Shift72 player, the new industry standard for virtual film festivals.

"This whole festival feels like a prototype of sorts," said Tabitha Jackson, festival director. "It's a grand experiment."

The entire lineup will be available on the festival's official website, and while tickets for some films are already sold out, there are still plenty of films to discover from the comfort of your living room at home.

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