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Sundance returns to Park City, Utah – and also to a laptop or VR device near you

The 2022 Sundance Film Festival is returning to the snowy mountains of Utah next month, but it is not abandoning screens near you.

After transitioning to a virtual festival in 2021 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival announced Thursday that they will hold in-person screenings in Park City (its traditional home base) and elsewhere in Utah, and at select satellite cinemas across the country, as well as make virtual screenings available to stream across the U.S. (and, in some cases, internationally) via Sundance's digital platform.

The festival, one of the premier showcases for independent film, takes place January 20-30, 2022.

On Thursday the 2022 festival's feature film lineup was announced. This edition of Sundance will include 82 features from 28 countries (91 percent of which are world premieres). Nearly half are by first-time directors.

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Finn Wolfhard and Julianne Moore in Jesse Eisenberg's "When You Finish Saving the World." Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Beth Garrabrant

"This year, we look forward to celebrating this generation's most innovative storytellers as they share their work across a wide range of genres and forms," said Sundance Institute founder and president Robert Redford. "These artists have provided a light through the darkest of times, and we look forward to welcoming their unique visions out into the world and experiencing them together."

Among the filmmakers who will be presenting their works are Lena Dunham ("Sharp Stick"); Rory Kennedy ("Downfall: The Case Against Boeing"); Tig Notaro ("Am I OK?"); Amy Poehler ("Lucy and Desi"); Jesse Eisenberg ("When You Finish Saving the World"); "The Artist" Oscar-winner Michel Hazanavicius ("Final Cut"); Sophie Hyde ("Good Luck to You, Leo Grande"); and Ramin Bahrani ("2nd Chance").

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Clockwise from top left: Maika Monroe in "Watcher"; Noomi Rapace in "You Won't Be Alone"; Sinéad O'Connor in "Nothing Compares"; and Aubrey Plaza in "Emily the Criminal." Courtesy of Sundance Institute; Branko Starcevic, Andrew Catlin, Low Spark Films

Jane – a clandestine network of women who assisted in obtaining abortions in pre-Roe v. Wade Chicago – is the subject of both a documentary ("The Janes") and a dramatic feature ("Call Jane," starring Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver).

Other documentaries include explorations of maternal mortality ("Aftershock"); the history of the slave trade ("Descendant"); volcanologists ("Fire of Love"); Tiananmen Square dissidents ("The Exiles"); Mormon missionaries ("The Mission"); singer-songwriter Sinead O'Connor ("Nothing Compares"); and the culture of virtual reality ("The Territory," filmed entirely in a VR environment). Also on tap: W. Kamau Bell's "We Need to Talk About Cosby"; Ed Perkins' "The Princess," about Princess Di; "Living," written by Nobel Prize-winner Kazuo Ishiguro; and "jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy," tracing the life of Kanye West. 

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Images from the documentaries "Calendar Girls," about a dance team of Florida women over 60 (top), and "Fire of Love," about two scientists whose shared love of volcanoes proved fatal.  Love Martinsen; Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Virtual Reality presentations in the New Frontier section will feature multimedia storytelling and biodigital performances, accessible globally via laptop or VR headset. Festival attendees can also interact virtually via their avatars, in this quasi-return to the traditional community atmosphere of the festival.

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"Cosmogony," a live digital performance featuring motion-captured dancers in Geneva. Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Some of the festival's lineup will screen at independent arthouses across the U.S., including the Amherst Cinema in Amherst, Mass.; SNF Parkway Theatre in Baltimore; mama.film in Lawrence, Kan.; Indie Memphis in Memphis, Tenn.; Digital Gym Cinema in San Diego; Northwest Film Forum in Seattle; and a/perture cinema in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Ticket packages go on sale December 17, with individual tickets going on sale January 6. All those attending screenings in person are required to show proof of vaccination and wear masks.

The lineup of short films will be announced December 10.

For more information visit the Sundance Film Festival website.

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