Where to Watch the Movies of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival

You could have watched this year's program from the comfort of your home. But if you didn't, we've got a guide to how to watch them in the future.

Sundance Egyptian Marquee
Sundance Institute

Congratulations to the Sundance Institute for a successful virtual film festival with a near-impeccable screener platform. We can’t wait to get back to seeing films on the big screen in Park City, but if we ever have to do this thing remotely again, we know we’ll be in good hands.

The special circumstances of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival also allowed more people to “attend” than usual due to its virtual screenings (as well as its local satellite screening participants around the US). If you weren’t able to see any films, though, or you missed some you really want to see, the good news is that most of them will be even more accessible very soon.

Below is our annual guide to where these movies are headed next. Some of this year’s Sundance selections plan to release in theaters in the future, when and/or where it’s safe, while others are going straight to streaming services. Which ones should be priority viewing? Stay tuned for our list of favorites from the festival, but check out our coverage here, and note the award winners at the top of this list.


2021 Sundance Film Festival Award Winners

All Light Everywhere

All Light, Everywhere

All Light, Everywhere

Distributor: Super Ltd. (Neon)
Release Date: TBD

Theo Anthony’s brilliant meta documentary essay exploring the weaponization of cameras since the dawn of photography as well as modern policing technologies won a Special Jury Award for Nonfiction Experimentation. It’s not as inaccessibly experimental as it sounds, though, and while it’s not currently set for release, it should find proper distribution and a wide audience in no time. Update: Neon’s boutique division, Super Ltd., has picked up the film for a release sometime this year.


Bambirak

Distributor: TBD
Release Date: TBD

This thirteen-minute drama, about a little Afghan girl who stows away in her father’s truck as he travels to another country for work, won the Short Film Jury Award for International Fiction. It will likely continue on the festival circuit for the time being.


CODA

Distributor: AppleTV+
Release Date: TBD

Winner of four awards in the US Dramatic program (Grand Jury Prize, Audience Award, Directing Award, and Special Jury Award for Ensemble Cast) as well as the distinction of breaking the record for highest acquisition price in Sundance history (more than $25 million), this feature follows a coming of age story about a child of deaf parents. Apple was the buyer, so you’ll be able to catch it on AppleTV+ later this year.


The Criminals

Distributor: Lights On
Release Date: TBD

A young unmarried Turkish couple seeks a hotel that will rent them a room for the night in this twenty-four-minute film that won the Short Film Special Jury Award for Screenwriting. Presumably, Lights On will continue to screen the short at festivals.


Cryptozoo

Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Release Date: TBD

Dash Shaw’s latest animated feature, which our Luke Hicks calls “kaleidoscopic, hallucinatory, inventive…a fever dream unlike any you’ve seen,” won the NEXT Innovator Prize. Magnolia Pictures acquired the imaginative film, which involves a zoo for mythical creatures, and will hopefully put it out in theaters and on VOD this year.


Cusp

Distributor: TBD
Release Date: TBD

Winner of a Special Jury Award for Emerging Filmmaker in the US Documentary program, Parker Hill and Isabel Bethencourt’s nonfiction coming of age film follows three teenage girls living in a Texas military town. Cusp is currently still without a distribution deal.


Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma

Distributor: TBD
Release Date: TBD

This thirty-eight-minute short film centered on the Black ABCs won the Short Film Jury Award for Nonfiction.


Flee

Distributor: Neon
Release Date: TBD

Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s animated documentary (which totally wrecked me) chronicles the story of a young gay Afghan refugee through his hardships and travels in the pursuit of a safe, permanent home. Neon bought the film for about $1 million and will partner with Participant Media on its US distribution. The plan is for actors Riz Ahmed and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who are executive producers of the film, to dub the voices for an English-language version.


Hive

Distributor: TBD
Release Date: TBD

This Albanian-language film about a mother attempting to make it as a small business owner after her husband doesn’t return from the war in Kosovo won three big awards in the World Cinema Dramatic program: the Grand Jury Prize, the Audience Award, and the Directing Award. Hive is currently without distribution, but with those accolades, it’s sure to be scooped up shortly.


Homeroom

Distributor: TBD
Release Date: TBD

The third feature in Peter Nicks’ trilogy spotlighting Oakland’s public institutions with a focus on the relationship between health care, criminal justice, and education, Homeroom follows a year in the life of Oakland High School seniors, particularly those fighting for the removal of police on their campus. Of course, COVID-19 and other current events take the story of these Class of 2020 students in an unexpected direction. Deserved winner of the Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award, the film has surprisingly no distribution in place at the moment.


Jockey

Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Release Date: TBD

Clifton Collins Jr. won the US Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of an aging jockey who learns he has a son (Moises Aria), who following in his footsteps. Sony Pictures Classics snagged the drama during the festival for a future theatrical release.


Luzzu

Distributor: TBD
Release Date: TBD

Jesmark Scicluna won the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting for this Maltese drama about a fisherman who joins the black market to better provide for his family. Luzzu currently lacks US distribution.


Ma Belle, My Beauty

Distributor: Good Deed Entertainment
Release Date: Late summer 2021

This film about the unplanned reunion of two women who were formerly lovers won the Audience Award for the NEXT program and currently lacks US distribution. Update: Good Deed Entertainment picked up North American rights to the film for a late summer 2021 release.


Sundance 2021: On The Count Of Three

On the Count of Three

On the Count of Three

Distributor: Annapurna/United Artists Releasing
Release Date: TBD

Jerrod Carmichael’s drama, which our Brianna Zigler calls an “exciting, moving debut” from the comedian-turned-filmmaker, won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, despite Brianna’s criticism that the script “does a disservice to the natural chemistry between its two leads.” The film currently lacks US distribution. Update: Annapurna has bought the North American rights to the film for around $2 million and will distribute through a partnership with MGM/Orion/United Artists Releasing.


One for the Road

Distributor: TBD
Release Date: TBD

Wong Kar-wai produced this road movie, which won a Special Jury Award for Creative Vision for the World Cinema Dramatic category, and it’s also currently without US distribution. Our Luke Hicks says it’s worth seeing but “does become hard to stomach” for its two-hour-plus runtime.


Philly D.A.

Distributor: PBS
Release Date: 2021

This eight-episode docuseries, which debuted two installments at the festival, received the Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producers Award for Nonfiction, for Nicole Salazar. Following the election and first term of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, it’s due to air on PBS this year via the Independent Lens brand.


President

Distributor: TBD
Release Date: TBD

Camilla Nielsson’s documentary about Zimbabwe’s presidential election won a Special Jury Award for Vérité Filmmaking for the World Cinema Documentary program. It’s currently without US distribution.


Sabaya

Distributor: TBD
Release Date: TBD

Hogir Hirori received the Directing Award for the World Cinema Documentary program for this documentary following an organization that rescues Yazidi women held as slaves by members of ISIS. Over at Nonfics, I called it “another essential glimpse at heroism in the face of genuine, under-represented evils and adversities occurring in the world” and wrote that will have you “feeling anxious and scared while virtually embedded in the action.” Sabaya sadly currently has no US distribution in place.


Sons of Monarchs

Distributor: TBD
Release Date: TBD

This drama, which is about a Mexican biologist based in New York City who goes back to his hometown, won the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize. It’s currently without a US distributor.


Souvenir Souvenir

Distributor: TBD
Release Date: TBD

This fifteen-minute film about a filmmaker working on a film about his grandfather’s souvenirs from the Algerian war consists of various animation formats and won the Short Film Jury Award for Animation. It will presumably continue on the festival circuit.


Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

Distributor: Searchlight Pictures and Hulu
Release Date: July 2, 2021

Questlove’s feature directorial debut, a documentary about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival and the historical and cultural context of its concert series, won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for the US Documentary program. Somehow this exceptional music doc has not been acquired for US distribution, which sadly aligns it with the original archival footage deemed undesirable fifty-two years ago. Summer of Soul better be picked up soon. UPDATE: it has been! Searchlight Pictures will put the film in theaters, while Hulu has the streaming rights for a day-and-date release.


The Touch of the Master’s Hand

Distributor: TBD
Release Date: TBD

This twelve-minute film about a Mormon missionary with a pornography addiction won the Short Film Jury Award for Fiction. Presumably, it will continue on the festival circuit.


Users

Distributor: TBD
Release Date: TBD

Natalia Almada won the Directing Award for the US Documentary program for her mesmerizing essay film about our relationship to technology. Users is currently without a US distributor.


Wiggle Room

Distributor: TBD
Release Date: TBD

Winner of the Short Film Jury Award for Acting, this thirteen-minute film about a woman attempting to save her wheelchair ramp from repossession currently lacks US distribution.


Writing With Fire

Distributor: TBD
Release Date: TBD

This feature film about the only newspaper in India run by Dalit women won the Audience Award for the World Cinema Documentary program. Currently, it has no known US distribution in place.

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Christopher began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called 'Read,' back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials.