Tag Archives: New Frontiers Center

New Frontier Spans Biodigital Terrain, Blending Online & In-Person in Real Time

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Park City, UT — When the 2022 Sundance Film Festival kicks off on January 20, it invites audiences to participate from wherever they are, including in-person in Utah. The 2022 edition of the Festival’s New Frontier section will be a full bio digital showcase, presented simultaneously on a bespoke WebXR spatialized virtual venue, The Spaceship, that has touchpoints in a newly conceived, free-to-access venue in Park City, The Craft. Ticketed New Frontier performances will also be presented in Park City’s iconic Egyptian Theatre, with simultaneous presentations on The Spaceship.

The Spaceship, globally accessible via laptop or VR headset, houses spaces for Festivalgoers to see the official New Frontier lineup, interact with others and gather together to watch programs and performances in an immersive arthouse theater. This year, Sundance, working again with the creative studio Active Theory, will unveil a number of upgrades to enhance The Spaceship’s functionality and accessibility. Festival attendees, both on the ground in Park City and online, can interact with each other and maintain the sense of community that the festival always aims to provide, including a bleeding-edge human-scale Biodigital Bridge that connects Festivalgoers in Park City and those attending The Spaceship online from anywhere in the world — establishing the Festival as a metaverse that overlays the physical event with a virtual one.

Since 2007, the New Frontier exhibition has showcased multimedia storytelling, art installations, and bio digital performances that make use of emerging technologies like virtual reality, haptic tech, and AI, among other tools. The 2022 edition is visualized as a human-scale and person-first digital experience that balances connection with a sense of place.

Shari Frilot,Sundance Film Festival Senior Programmer, and New Frontier Chief Curator

“Since the earliest stages of planning ’22, we’ve centered access and learnings from past iterations,” said Shari Frilot, senior programmer, and New Frontier chief curator. “After the  ’21 festival, we realized that presenting the work online effectively took one of the hottest, hardest-to-access experiences of prior Festivals and made it instantly and globally accessible to anyone with the right tech. New Frontier this year prioritizes bio digital design as a very adventurous endeavor, and one that speaks to the priorities of its creators, artists, and audiences.”

Full details on New Frontier’s 2022 edition, taking place across:

The Spaceship is a virtual venue situated to orbit Earth alongside the International Space Station and is globally accessible January 20-28 via laptop or VR headset. It will host:

  • The Gallery, which will showcase the complete 2022 New Frontier lineup of XR work + Easter eggs.

  • Cinema House, a venue featuring live streaming, room-scale address, and chat functionalities.

  • A programmed series of Artist Spotlights designed to enable artists to represent their projects in person at The Craft in Park City and on The Spaceship in Cinema House.

  • Film Party, a virtual social space, that allows audiences to inhabit avatars for organic, proximity-based, person-to-person webcam chat and connection. This venue will host dedicated film premiere parties after their online premieres and live Q&As, bringing filmmakers together with their online audiences to celebrate their films in both halves of the festival.


The Craft is a newly conceived space in Park City for artists to come together around the present and future of the artistic practice. It is an immersive environment that’s free and open to all Festival patrons. By day, artists present, discuss and celebrate the creative process through a series of special public events, also live-streamed through the online Festival platform. Providing a point of convergence between the online and  “on-mountain” Festivalgoers, The Craft is open January 21-25 and will host:

  • Creators, Festival filmmakers, New Frontier artists, and creative technologists inside a venue that provides multiple immersive touchpoints to The Spaceship, including a bleeding-edge human-scale Biodigital Bridge — an innovative piece of technology from Active Theory that connects Festivalgoers at The Craft in Park City and those attending The Spaceship online from anywhere in the world.

  • Daily curated Beyond Film conversations, artist and community panels, talks, and gatherings, featuring Festival Artists and including Artist Spotlights.

  • Social spaces designed for artistic encounters.

  • Access to the  2022 New Frontier XR lineup with equipment and assistance provided. (Attendees are also encouraged to bring their own headsets, with equipment specs to be announced at a later date.)

The Egyptian Theatre will present dynamic New Frontier performances (simultaneously happening on The Spaceship) to a live and bio digitally converged audience who will be able to participate in a post-performance Q&A. Tickets are required and will be available on December 17 (packages) and January 5 (single tickets).

The 2022 edition of New Frontier at the Sundance Film Festival on the Spaceship is accessible to all holders of the Explorer Pass ($50 via link), which is also part of all ticket packages.

The Sundance Institute New Frontier Program is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Unity, Adobe, Dell Technologies, Rally, Metaplex Studios and Canon USA, Inc.

Festival Sponsors and Host State

The Festival is a program of the nonprofit Sundance Institute. The 2022 Festival sponsors include Presenting Sponsors – Acura, AMC+, Chase Sapphire, Adobe; Leadership Sponsors – Amazon Studios, DIRECTV, DoorDash, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom Group, WarnerMedia, XRM Media; Sustaining Sponsors – Aflac, Audible, Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Dell Technologies, IMDbPro, Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold, Rabbit Hole Bourbon & Rye, Southwest Airlines®, Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health, White Claw Hard Seltzer; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, NPR, Shadow and Act, Variety and Vulture. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. https://festival.sundance.org/

Sundance Institute

As a champion and curator of independent stories for the stage and screen, Sundance Institute provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theater, film composing and digital media to create and thrive.

Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, the Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs dedicated to developing new work take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Collab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale Station, City So Real, Top of the Lake, Between the World & Me, Wild Goose Dreams and Fun Home. Join the Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

(Sourced from Sundance News Release)

2020 Sundance Spotlight Interview: Sam Doerge

Posted by Larry Gleeson

First-year New Frontiers Central Festival Coordinator, Sam Doerge, is making the most out of her 2020 Sundance Film Festival experience.

Sam Goerge_Sundance2020-1
New Frontiers Central Festival Coordinator, Sam Doerge. (Photo by Larry Gleeson)

First-year New Frontiers Central Festival Coordinator, Sam Doerge, is making the most out of her 2020 Sundance Film Festival experience. Doerge has a background in art having majored in Visual and Critical Research with a minor in Sculpture at the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In addition, Doerge is the Programming Coordinator for Denver Film and is the Art Director for the Telluride Film Festival.

While working as the Telluride Art Director, Doerge came in contact with Spheres, a three-part virtual reality series written and directed by Eliza McNitt, produced by Jess Engle, and executively produced by Darren Aronofsky. Spheres made a huge splash at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and it sold for a seven-figure sum. Producer Jess Engle is attending this year’s festival as a producer for the augmented reality installation, Breathe. New Frontiers Central is in its second year of operation as the festival’s second venue for New Frontier programming.

Having dreamt about Immersive Storytelling and voraciously reading about installation management, Doerge seemed to be in the right place at the right time to explore the exponentially growing field of virtual reality/augmented reality. Always an admirer of the New Frontier at Sundance from afar, Doerge seized the opportunity to apply and was consequently offered the New Frontiers Central Festival Coordinator contract.

With the enormously talented artists, including Diego Galafassi (Breathe), and their assistants, Doerge coordinated a process whereby the Sundance personnel could augment and amplify the immersive virtual/augmented reality experience. Working closely with her manager Boji Wong, a mother of three who singly managed the New Frontiers Center last year, the duo trained staff, volunteers, and docents to facilitate a smoothly operating, cutting-edge installation for the artists and patrons alike. Doerge believes the 12 hour working days (New Frontiers Central first day wound up being the longest, 7:30AM – 2:30AM, concluding at the end of the artists’ Opening Night party) has offered a wonderful opportunity to learn from highly professional and highly respected peers.

What also is working for Doerge as the New Frontiers Central Festival Coordinator at Sundance is the overall working environment, the strong sense of community inside New Frontiers, and the opportunity to learn. And, as anyone who has ever been in the fray of a battle knows – planning helps! Nevertheless, “being in the moment making decisions that balance and manage expectations of all parties involved have been the keys to a smoothly operating New Frontiers Central,” according to Doerge. And, as the environment is in a constant state of change, each day and, in reality, each moment, has its unique characteristics requiring a moment-to-moment response.

With several fully realized sculpture creations to her credit, Doerge understands how to bring a vision to fruition and had a sincere appreciation for watching the New Frontiers Central come to life. Moreover, Doerge’s New Frontier Central experience has brought her into contact with seasoned professionals possessing high skill sets such as Jamie McMurry, New Frontiers Production Designer, and Shari Frilot, Chief Curator. “Shari Frilot has impeccable taste. The best I’ve ever seen,” said Doerge.

The New Frontiers Central is in its second year of operation. Thus far this year, the docents have provided unswerving support in ensuring the artist’s needs are being met with VIP’s, industry professionals, and festivalgoers all clamoring for a chance to experience the exhilarating displays. Furthermore, the installation seems to be operating smoothly as two previews on Saturday for the publicists and the press and industry professionals were conducted successfully.

With the three weeks of coordinating Immersive Experience under her belt, Doerge plans to return to her Denver Film post and Telluride Art Director position with a fresh perspective and looks forward to the challenges ahead – including the 2021 Sundance Film Festival with run dates from Thursday, January 21st, through Sunday, January 31st, 2021.

Until then, I’ll see you at the movies!


*Featured photo: A still from Breathe by Diego Galafassi, an official selection of the New Frontier Exhibitions program at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.