No need to trek to Park City, Utah and buy expensive passes — anyone can watch the 2021 Sundance Film Festival online. Sundance is virtual this year because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. And while that means there's no chance of celebrity sightings on the slopes, you can check out the Sundance lineup of 73 feature films and 50 short films from the comfort of your couch.
The 2021 Sundance Film Festival is taking place Jan. 28 through Feb. 3. Just like in previous years, Sundance will host the live-streaming premieres of movies that will later get a ton of awards buzz and critical acclaim. The event may be virtual but it's still packed with stars. The movies feature big names including Tiffany Haddish, Tessa Thompson, Robin Wright, Nicolas Cage, Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield and Constance Wu.
Sundance ticket options include all-you-watch passes (though they are now sold out) and individual tickets to single films (still available for many hot titles).
We've got a guide on how to stream Sundance online, and 10 movies to add to your watch list.
How to watch 2021 Sundance Film Festival anywhere on Earth, with a VPN
Since global passes to the Sundance Film Festival are sold out, that leaves only single-film tickets. Unfortunately, those are U.S. only. But that doesn't mean you need to miss out — with the right VPN (virtual private network), you can stream the movies from wherever you go.
We've evaluated many options, and the best VPN is ExpressVPN. It meets the VPN needs of the vast majority of users, offering outstanding compatibility with most devices and impressive connection speeds. It's also affordable at $12.95 per month. (Signing up for longer periods of six months or a year reduces the cost even more.)
Our favorite VPN service, ExpressVPN, really shines thanks to its safety, speed and simplicity-to-use. It's also compatible with loads of devices - from iOS and Android to Roku, Apple TV and PlayStations. You'll even get an extra three months free if you sign up for a year, or there's a 30-day money-back guarantee if you just want to give it a try.
2021 Sundance Film Festival ticket info
All Sundance passes are sold out, including the Festival, Day, and Awards passes.
Many single film tickets ($15 each) are still available for premieres and second screenings. "Virtual seats" are limited and tickets are only available to U.S. audiences.
Premieres occur in a specific three-hour window that include the live screening, an interactive chat and a post-screening Q&A with the filmmakers and cast members. Viewers can start a film anytime during the window (for example, if the window is 7-10 p.m., you can start the movie at 9:59 p.m. and still watch the whole thing). And you can take breaks as long as you finish the movie within four hours.
Second screenings offer a 24-hour, on-demand screening window.
2021 Sundance Film Festival streaming devices and apps
2021 Sundance Film Festival lineup and noteworthy movies
This year's Sundance is virtual but that doesn't mean it's any less robust. There are 73 feature films and 50 short films in the Sundance lineup.
We've highlighted 10 feature films that are likely to make a splash:
CODA: The title of Sundance's opening film is an acronym that stands for "Child of Deaf Adults." Nearly 40 percent of the coming-of-age drama is communicated via ASL.
Cryptozoo: The hand-drawn animated comedy features the voices of Lake Bell and Michael Cera. The story follows a couple who discover a "cryptid," or mythological creature, that can consume dreams.
I Was a Simple Man: Described as "part dream, part family history," the story centers on an elderly and sick Hawaiian man (newcomer Steve Iwamoto) who is being guided into the afterlife by his deceased loved ones. Constance Wu appears as his former wife.
Judas and the Black Messiah: Daniel Kaluuya stars as Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton, with Lakeith Stanfield playing the FBI informant who betrays Hampton and helps take down the Black power organization. For those who miss the Sundance premiere, you're in luck because Warner Bros is releasing the film in theaters (where open) and on HBO Max on Feb. 12.
Land: Robin Wright's directorial debut is an intimate tale of a woman who copes with a near-death experience by moving to a remote cabin in the wilderness. If you miss the Sundance screening, the film will play in theaters (where open) starting Feb. 12.
On the Count of Three: Actor/comedian/writer Jerrod Carmichael makes his directorial debut with this dark comedy about two best friends who make a suicide pact. Also starring Christopher Abbott and Tiffany Haddish.
Passing: Based on Nella Larsen's 1929 novel, the drama marks the directorial debut of actress Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3, Vicky Cristina Barcelona). Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga play light-skinned mixed Black women. But while one chooses to "pass" as white, the other embraces her Blackness.
Prisoners of the Ghostland: Nicolas Cage says this "might be the wildest movie I've ever made," which means it's absolutely bonkers. He plays a criminal who agrees to rescue the governor's granddaughter from a nuclear-ravaged area. To give him some extra initiative, his jumpsuit has grenades attached that will detonate if he doesn't complete the mission on time.
Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street: Get a nostalgic hit with this documentary, based on Michael Davis' book, that chronicles how educators and entertainers teamed up in the late 1960s to create Sesame Street.
Together, Together: In this rom-com, Ed Helms stars as a single man in his 40s who hires a young woman (Patti Harrison) to be his surrogate. Tig Notaro, Anna Konkle and Julio Torres round out the cast.
HBO Max is one of the new kids on the streaming block but it's already got a ton to offer, including all of HBO's prestige series, like Game of Thrones, The Sopranos and The Wire. Plus, the service has its own originals like American Pickle and The Flight Attendant. HBO Max costs $15 per month but right now, you can save 20% when you prepay six months.
Get the BEST of Tom’s Guide daily right in your inbox: Sign up now!
Upgrade your life with the Tom’s Guide newsletter. Subscribe now for a daily dose of the biggest tech news, lifestyle hacks and hottest deals. Elevate your everyday with our curated analysis and be the first to know about cutting-edge gadgets.
Kelly is the streaming channel editor for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.