Sundance Film Festival 2022 drives innovation via its second virtual edition.
Sundance Diary Day One Thursday, January 20, 2022
It’s Day 1 of Sundance Film Festival 2022. Festival Director Tabitha Jackson and her leadership team, including Director of Programming Kim Yutani, New Frontier Chief Curator Shari Frilot, and Senior Programmer John Nein, welcome the press and industry via a live-stream panel.
After planning for a hybrid experience, the Sundance Film Festival is all virtual for the second year in a row. The decision is due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19. Sundance leaders benefit from sourcing lessons learned from the first virtual platform launched in 2021. They’re experimenting with immersive design to improve experiences around delight, gathering, and chance encounters.
“We are together in the moment to discuss the work and converge to make meaning. That’s the magic of the festival,” says Sundance Festival Director Tabitha Jackson, speaking during the press panel. “We have adapted. We have always been about values-driven innovation. We adapt and thrive.”
Are you interested in future storytelling? The artists and creative leaders of Sundance 2022 are ready to inspire. Dive into Sundance 2022 from anywhere in the world and experience powerful stories on topics including the climate crisis and reproductive rights
What I’m Watching:
Filmmaker Carey Williams and writer KD Davila mine the audience-friendly, one-wild-night genre for Emergency, a forgettable, college-set comedy. Emergency premieres in the U.S. Dramatic section of Sundance Film Festival 2022.
Roommates Kunle (Donald Elise Watkins), Sean (RJ Cyler), and Carlos (Sebastian Chacon) watch their plans for all-night partying fade after discovering a passed-out girl (Maddie Nichols) on the floor of their house. They set out to transport the girl to a nearby hospital. Unfortunately, racial profiling by the cops and the girl’s older sister (Sabrina Carpenter) gets in the way.
Williams returns to Sundance after his dazzling 2021 entry R#J, a vibrant refresh of Romeo and Juliet told via GIFs, Memes, and Live Streams. Emergency is a sophomore feature letdown for Williams. The comedy lacks the laughs of the one-wild-night classics Superbad (2007) and After Hours (1985).
Likable performances from the film’s co-stars Donald Elise Watkins, RJ Cyler, and Sebastian Chacon make the film’s missed opportunities extra painful. Is it too much to ask for a few more laughs from a one-wild-night comedy?
What I’m Learning:
Binaural audio takes the spotlight via ‘32 Sounds.’
Award-winning documentary filmmaker Sam Green returns to Sundance with 32 Sounds, an immersive film crafted around 32 spatial audio experiences. Via audience headsets, classic educational films, and new documentary footage featuring the Neumann KU 100 Dummy Head Binaural Microphone, Green pays homage to film and sound editor Walter Murch and stereophonic sound engineer Alan Blumlein. Audiences typically focus on visuals in immersive works. In 32 Sounds, Green flips the model, and sound trumps vision.
New Frontier Chief Curator Shari Frilot highlights a WebXR platform called the New Frontier Spaceship to prove the festival’s commitment to enhancing interaction. Sundance attendees can pop into film parties, chat with each other at a festival lounge and watch New Frontier programs like 32 Sounds at the cinema house.
What’s the Same:
Issues with the WebXR platform caused a delay for the opening-night premiere of 32 Sounds. Think about classic festival technical difficulties, including projection breakdowns and delayed prints. No matter the cause of technical postponement, it’s a welcome opportunity to turn to a nearby avatar aboard the New Frontier Spaceship and chat about the festival.
Behind the Screens:
The New Frontier section of interactive films and projects celebrates 16 years with Sundance Film Festival 2022. IDFA DocLab, the new media program of Amsterdam’s International Documentary Film Festival, marks its New Frontier collaboration with an interactive portal transporting attendees to Europe. That’s what I call a New Frontier Spaceship!
It’s Sundance week. Join my avatar on the New Frontier Spaceship. Read my Sundance Film Festival 2022 diaries. Interact with me and all the Sundance 2022 virtual attendees.