Virtual Sundance


Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival.

Like just about everything, film and music festivals have changed since the advent of COVID-19. Welcome to Rockville was canceled for the year. All Gasparilla events were first postponed and then canceled. Other festivals decided to go online to offer people the chance to participate from home. Sundance Film Festival is one that went this route.

Sundance is normally held in January in Park City, Utah. Films from all over the world are screened for industry professionals and fans. Many are bought for distribution by various studios, while others have the purpose of promoting the filmmakers.
This year, the Sundance Institute decided to show all their films and presentations online so the festival could still occur. While there were fewer films, people from anywhere could participate. There were a total of 72 features, 50 shorts, four Indie Series and 14 New Frontier VR/new media projects. (typical).

Legion M, a company whose members view movies with the intention of getting distribution deals, was able to have more of their members watch films this year. In their recent member and shareholder meeting, co-founder and president Jeff Annison said that although they were sad they would not get to meet everyone in person, at least now, people who normally would not be able to attend could still rate films.

Films at Sundance are normally preceded by introductions by Sundance programmers and feature question and answer sessions with filmmakers. This year was no exception. Some programmers talked about how different things were this year, while others mainly talked about the upcoming presentations.

Landon Zakheim, a programmer for short films, introduced the animated shorts by telling fans how to make their viewing like it was actually there in Park City.

“Stand outside for 45 minutes and get cold,” he said. “Then come in and peel off some layers, turn down the lights and enjoy the films.”

The logistics of the festival aren’t the only things affected by COVID. Some of the content was related to the pandemic. One of the entries in the Indie Series Program, “These Days” was about life during the COVID shutdown.

Written and directed by Adam Brooks (“Definitely, Maybe”), “These Days” tells the story of Mae, a dancer, who is lonely. She decides to participate in virtual dating, where she has video calls with people. The first date she has is with a rude man. The second date is with Will, who she connects with. Will is a writer for various magazines, and it turns out that he is doing the virtual dating as a story assignment. After the date, he tells his editor, Janet, that he does not want to keep going with the story because some of the people he met are truly hopeful to find someone. She figures that he must like one of the people he met, but insists that he continue with the story.

“These Days” is a pilot for a possible series. It received a good review from Katey Rich of Vanity Fair, and may be on the small screen soon.

For more information about Sundance, visit To learn more about Legion M, go to