The Sundance Film Festival–started by acting and directing legend Robert Redford, is one of the most popular and buzzed-about festivals of the year. There are always films at Sundance that go on to be box office hits or award-show darlings.  The festival is attended by more than 50,000 people, all dying to see some of the 200+ films shown throughout the week.

But Sundance is about more than just the screenings.  Held in Park City, Utah–which is a tiny, tiny town–Sundance offers something truly unique: a chance for film fans to rub elbows with famous people.  The festival’s cozy setting and casual atmosphere is half the draw, and even other celebrities attend in the hopes of meeting their favorite stars. There are interviews, town-hall-style meetings, meet-and-greets, roundtable discussions, and of course… parties and receptions.

And this year, Sundance is putting most of that stuff online, streaming live, through their partnership with Brightcove. The crown jewel of streaming Sundance content this year will be the Life In A Day film from YouTube, Ridley Scott, and Kevin Macdonald. I am admittedly a bit confused, because Brightcove is the official online video provider for Sundance, and the only provider mentioned in the Hollywood Reporter article, and yet YouTube’s Life In A Day page suggests that they will be hosting the live stream. Maybe they’re co-sponsors on that broadcast or something.

The real point is that Sundance is embracing online video in huge new ways, trying to make it possible for the millions of film fans who aren’t able to attend the festival to still participate and experience a little bit of that Park City magic. Imagine, if you will, what the Sundance Film Festival might look like five or ten years from now.  Is it possible that we’ll be able to buy tickets and see films online just as in-person attendees see them in Park City? Absolutely.  I’d go so far as to say it’s likely.

Online video is no gimmick.  It’s not a toy, no matter what your father thinks. It’s a hugely powerful tool that is changing the way we do business, from the IBM‘s of the world to the independent film festivals like Sundance.  It makes things possible that were, until very recently, unfathomable.  Such as the ability for you and I to get a real taste of the world-famous Sundance experience from the comfort of the living room couch.

The Sundance Film Festvial begins tomorrow, and runs until January 30th.  Be sure to stop by their website over the course of the next 11 days and check out some of the live-streaming video coverage.