As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exert its disruptive will across the cultural landscape, the wildly popular Sundance Film Festival is changing course by expanding well beyond the theaters of the Utah ski mecca. Instead, it’s going across the country and three Texas cities are big beneficiaries.
Houston Cinema Arts Festival revealed Tuesday afternoon that it is partnering with the festival as host to a satellite event with world première showings at Moonstruck Drive-in Cinema at East River. The Austin Film Society will host satellite screenings at a drive-in at Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farms and in Dallas the Dallas Film Commission leads the partnership with screenings be shown at The Texas Theatre.
The expanded Sundance program will include a digital platform where movie lovers from around the world can view this year’s lineup, drive-in screenings at venues around the country, in-person showings at independent art houses nationwide, and a virtual reality space that includes live performances during the January 8 through February 3 festival.
“What we’ve ended up with is a robust, secure, vibrant festival platform and drive-ins for as many feature films as we can manage,” festival director Tabitha Jackson said in an interview with Vanity Fair.“This is a celebration of cinema and optimism of how we gather and an absolute commitment to the work.”
In Houston, the drive-in will accommodate up to 150 cars, making it one of the largest satellite locations in the country.
“This is a rare opportunity to bring together a world-renowned film festival, featuring the best in global independent film, with Houston,” Jessica Green, Houston Cinema Arts Festival artistic director, said in a statement. “We are excited to share some of the best of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival in real time, with Houstonians, along with ‘Beyond Film’ virtual programming featuring, and in partnership with local filmmakers, artists and organizations.”