The pandemic was inescapable at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival

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These Days. | Photo: Sundance Institute

For the first time since its inception, this year’s iteration of the Sundance Film Festival wasn’t held in picturesque Park City, Utah. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the showcase turned into a virtual event. Promising directors were still on hand to showcase their work, but viewers were able to watch them from the comfort of their living rooms. It wasn’t just the way films were presented that changed, though. The pandemic also impacted how many of these movies were made and what they’re about.

The shift is most obvious in films that are explicitly about the pandemic, of which there are several. For instance, These Days is a short that stars Marianne Rendón and William Jackson Harper as two 20-somethings in New York struggling during the…

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