PARK CITY, Utah (ABC4) – The 2021 Sundance Film Festival is fast approaching and for the first time ever the festival will be coming to you, both online and in the real world across the United States and beyond.

“Despite the challenges this year has brought, nothing could stop us from celebrating independent film, visionary artists, unique perspectives, and you, our adventurous audiences,” says Sundance Film Festival Director, Tabitha Jackson.

The Sundance Film Festival is an annual film festival organized by the Sundance Institute. Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, the festival is the largest independent film festival in the United States. The festival takes place every January in Park City, Salt Lake City, and at the Sundance Resort.

According to the Sundance Institute website, Robert Redford founded the Institute to “foster independence, risk-taking, and new voices in American film.” During its first year, ten emerging filmmakers were invited. This year, a staff of 180 employees works from offices in Park City, Los Angeles, and New York City to provide 25 residential labs, grants exceeding $3 million, and ongoing mentorships that support more than 900 artists each year, the website states.

The 2021 festival will offer an online platform featuring seven days of premieres, events, artist talks, and cutting-edge XR exhibitions. The Sundance Institute is partnering with independent cinema communities across the U.S. and beyond to safely host in-person events.

Events will start on January 28 and run through February 3.

“The heart of our festival is our community. The joining of artists and audiences forms something truly extraordinary. We invite you to explore the program, join the conversation, and experience this new festival with us,” Jackson adds.

Though 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic has presented its challenges, Jackson shares artists are still finding paths to “make bold and vital work in whatever ways they can.”

“The core of our Festival in the form of an online platform and socially distanced cinematic experiences is responsive to the pandemic and gives us the opportunity to reach new audiences, safely, where they are,” says Jackson.

She also adds that the festival will still preserve what makes it so unique–collaborative spirit, collective energy, and the celebration of the art, artists, and ideas.

“Our Festival footprint has changed this year, but we are excited to bring an incredible community together in new ways to engage with new artists and new stories — whether they’re joining us for the first year or have been for decades,” says Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam. “Our ambition is for everyone to come together, safely, wherever they may be and participate in screenings on our platform at the same time. The Sundance team has consulted with artists, worked with incredible partners, and built a plan to welcome new audiences and capture a true Festival spirit.”