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- Sundance Now is a streaming service that aims to showcase stories told by unique voices, created in the likeness of the Sundance Institute (the non-profit that puts on the Sundance Film Festival program).
- It carries true-crime series, original dramas, thrillers, foreign and independent films, and more — all streaming free of commercials. Some of its notable indie darlings include "Monster," "Memento," and "Short Term 12".
- You can join free for seven days. After, it’s $4.99 per month for an annual membership and $6.99 for a monthly membership.
- You can stream Sundance Now using the Apple App Store, Google Play, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Xbox One.
- See all the series available on Sundance Now here, and all the films available here.
In 2018, 125,000 people congregated in Park City, Utah — a ski town whose population wouldn’t top 9,000 in the US Census of the same year — for the largest independent film festival in the United States: Sundance.
Put on by the Sundance Institute, the festival functions as both a showcase and competition of new work from American and international independent filmmakers. Entries range from dramatic and documentary features and short films; series and episodic content; and New Frontier, which the Institute describes as "emerging media in the form of multimedia installations, performances, and films."
But you may be able to skip the flight, crowds, and $300-$4,000 ticket and still get close to the experience.
Sundance Now, founded in 2014, aims to bring Sundance Festival’s ethos to the home viewer.
It’s a streaming service that carries original and exclusive dramas, comedies, and true-crime series, in addition to award-winning movies from every genre, including foreign-language and documentary features — all streaming commercial-free. Each selection was chosen for its storytelling, unique voice, and/or unexpected global perspective.
It can be streamed using the Apple app store, Google Play, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Xbox One. Monthly, it’ll cost you between $5 and $7.
Apart from using the Sundance Festival’s principles as guides, the service also invites filmmakers who have made an impact at the Festival to create watch-lists of their favorite films as guest curators, sometimes with brief text introductions. As of March 2019, the collections include curations from Lisa Gardner, Danny Glover, and David Lowery, among others.
How to use it:
- Create an account for a free seven day trial of Sundance Now.
- Choose between an annual membership ($4.99 per month, billed once as $59.99), or monthly ($6.99 per month).
- If you’d rather not continue with the service, just make sure to cancel before the trial ends.
- Start streaming.
To help you navigate, there are the typical streaming service curations: Must-watch series, new arrivals, Oscar-nominated films, true crime, indie hits, and a mix of popular genres you can click on like suspense, comedy, foreign, drama, and documentary. There’s also a slew of topically curated categories for Women’s History Month like leading ladies, women in history, and female filmmakers.
There’s also a surprising variety for a service that could, at first blush, just sound like a library of cerebral foreign films. While the streaming service offers gritty indie hits like "Monster" and "Memento", the same user could also find "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" or "Friends with Money" with Jennifer Aniston, Joan Cusack, and Frances McDormand. You can use member reviews to help guide your selections, and save titles to your "list" for later viewing.
If you’re looking for a way to watch everything from classic to hard-to-find indie films, and do it on multiple devices — or even a way to discover new ones worth playing at home — Sundance Now may be worth looking into. Either way, you can check out the service for free for a week to see if it has enough to keep you interested. And, if it’s worth re-upping, it’ll cost you less than a large coffee at Starbucks.
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