Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier will bridge physical and virtual worlds for 2022

New tech-driven art will be headquartered in Park City and in an online ‘Spaceship’.

(Sundance Institute) An image from The Spaceship, a virtual meeting space that will be part of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival's New Frontier program.

The 2022 Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier program will be a “biodigital showcase,” spanning the divide between virtual and physical art spaces, festival organizers say.

Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute, the nonprofit arts group that puts on the annual festival, announced Monday it will stage the New Frontier program — which highlights the artistic and storytelling applications of new technology — both in person in Park City and in a virtual venue.

The virtual venue, called The Spaceship, will be accessible via laptop or VR headset (such as Oculus devices). There, festivalgoers can see a gallery of works in the New Frontier lineup, interact with other attendees at the Film Party, and watch programs and performances in an immersive online theater called Cinema House.

The Spaceship will be linked, thematically, with The Craft, the in-person space at 950 Iron Horse Drive in Park City. The space was dubbed New Frontier Central when it opened at the 2019 festival, in a space that used to hold an earlier generation’s symbol of new storytelling technology: A Blockbuster Video store.

The Craft, which will be free to all festival patrons Jan. 21-25, will feature a daily series of “Beyond Film” conversations, artist and community panels, and other gatherings. Some of these events, called “Artist Spotlights,” will happen in person and virtually, in The Spaceship’s Cinema House.

The Craft, festival organizers say, also will feature technology so people can connect to virtual festivalgoers via The Spaceship.

New Frontier performances also will be held in Park City’s Egyptian Theatre, simultaneously broadcast on The Spaceship — with audiences in the theater and online taking part in post-performance Q&A sessions.

Sundance programmers will announce the New Frontier programming, along with the festival’s approximately 80 feature films, sometime in December.

The Spaceship is a continuation of the New Frontier platform launched during the 2021 festival, which was online only because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After the ‘21 festival, we realized that presenting the work online effectively took one of the hottest, hardest-to-access experiences of prior festivals and made it instantly and globally accessible to anyone with the right tech,” Shari Frilot, a senior programmer for the festival and New Frontier’s chief curator, said in a statement. “New Frontier this year prioritizes biodigital design as a very adventurous endeavor, and one that speaks to the priorities of its creators, artists and audiences.”

The Craft is free to festivalgoers. Access to The Spaceship is available to anyone holding an Explorer Pass, which costs $50, or is included in all festival ticket packages. Tickets are required for events at The Egyptian; tickets will be available to package holders on Dec. 17, and individual tickets go on sale Jan. 5.

The 2022 Sundance Film Festival will run Jan. 20-30 in Park City, Salt Lake City, the Sundance Mountain Resort and online.

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