Sundance Institute shares some impressive numbers regarding this year’s virtual showcase.
Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier showcase was conducted virtually this year in response to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic. And despite losing some of the charm that comes with attending the legendary in-person event in Salt Lake City, Utah, event organizers did a considerable job with this virtual alternative.
From Jan. 28th to Feb. 3rd, those with a $25 Explorers Pass had full access to the entire New Frontier exhibit, accessible via a custom-built virtual platform developed in collaboration with Active Theory. Here, attendees on desktop and VR could explore The Gallery, a public space featuring information on how to access the 14 immersive projects selected for the exhibit; Cinema House, a virtual screening room (VR only); and Film Party, a virtual bar where creators and attendees could mix and mingle after select premieres.
According to the Sundance Institute, this year’s New Frontier exhibition received approximately 39,869 visits over the course of the seven-day virtual showcase. To put that number in perspective, Sundance states that past in-person festivals averaged around 2,000 attendees. Of course, it goes without saying that much of this success can be attributed to the ease and convenience afforded by digital events. $25 for full access to the entire New Frontier showcase is a ridiculously low entry fee compared to the prices of past festivals. The numbers don’t lie. Allowing attendees to access content from the comfort of their homes opened the showcase up to a whole new audience.
“It’s been rewarding to see the way adventurous audiences everywhere engaged with our program and platform, and of course we are delighted to have met and even exceeded our goal of expanding the reach and community for independent film in this challenging year,” said Sundance Institute CEO Keri Putnam, in an official release. “I am so inspired by the incredible Sundance team who rose to the challenge of presenting the Festival in a new way, and grateful to our Board whose partnership and support was invaluable and — as always — to Robert Redford for being our guiding light.”
“We talked about this year’s festival as a grand experiment,” added Festival Director Tabitha Jackson, “and now we are in the process of analyzing the results — a vital part of informing the expression of Festival in 2022. There is a lot still to learn, but we are delighted that a combination of online and in-person participation, innovative social spaces, hard work, and a lot of crossed fingers came together to expand and connect audiences for the incredible slate of work we were lucky enough to program this year.”
In total, the 2021 Sundance Film Festival attracted over 600,000 views; that’s 2.7x or 168% more than last year’s standard in-person event.
Moving forward, it’ll be interesting to see how these numbers influence next year’s festivities. Will organizers continue to offer cheaper alternatives for those attending remotely? Or will it be business as usual for the long-running festival come January 2022?
Feature Image Credit: Sundance Institute