Sundance has long been known for expertly curated films and as an incubator for some of today’s most beloved filmmakers, but a thoughtful and passionate audience is just as meaningful an asset. A great film carries its audience emotionally through a story. A great audience member will meet a film halfway, reserving judgment before they’ve seen a film, and as they watch it, consider the intention, context, and their own relationship to the world of the film. Independent film thrives on subverting expectations and formulas, and this can only be achieved with an attuned audience.
2020 was the first year Sundance needed to ‘sell’ festival tickets and convince most of the audience to attend. But it was also an opportunity to expand and diversify the audience – to build a bigger tent, but also to bring audiences and art closer together, creating an active and engaged community who are a part of a cultural moment even when they’re not physically there.
“Together like never before,” paired with cinematic imagery of untraditional audience members, addressed the unique challenges of this year while inviting in a new generation of film lovers. We worked with the Institute’s archives team to find moments from the festival that hit the right emotional beats and communicated that while SFF would be different this year, the reimagined format came with long-term and meaningful change.