Sundance “sick” with COVID-19; it will be virtual

Just two weeks before it takes place in Park City, Utah, the Sundance Film Festival canceled its face-to-face version to make a completely virtual edition in the face of the increase in the coronavirus.

Organizers announced that the festival will begin according to schedule on January 20. It had originally been planned as a hybrid festival with performances online and in person. Last year Sundance was held virtually by the pandemic.

“It was a difficult decision to make,” the festival said in a statement. “As a non-profit organization, our spirit at Sundance is to do something that works despite the difficulties. But as cases are forecast to peak in our host community the week of the festival we are unable to knowingly put our staff and community at risk. Excessive stress on Summit County health services and our more than 1,500 festival staff and volunteers would be irresponsible in this scenario. “

The cancellation of the live version of Sundance is a major blow to the independent film industry that has struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic. Last year the virtual version of Sundance, where movies like “Summer of Soul (or The Revolution Will Not Be Televised)” and “CODA” made a big impression, showed that a digital festival can still drive breakthrough hits. But filmmakers, executives, the public and journalists hoped that Sundance – America’s premier film festival and platform for young filmmakers – would kick off a new year of premiere-packed cinema in the mountains of Utah.

The Sundance Institute, which organizes the festival, waited as long as possible to make the decision. At the end of December, when the highly infectious omicron variant of COVID-19 increased cases in the United States, the festival announced that vaccine boosters would be necessary for attendees, capacity would be reduced, and eating or drinking would not be allowed in theaters. cinemas. This was in addition to previous protocols that required vaccination, use of indoor masks, and other specifications.

But since omicron has pushed cases to record highs, organizers ultimately chose not to draw crowds to Park City.

“We do not consider it safe or feasible to bring together thousands of artists, audiences, employees, volunteers and partners from around the world for an 11-day festival while the overwhelmed communities are already struggling to provide essential services,” they noted.

Sundance, which runs from January 20-30, previously announced its selection of 82 feature films, chosen from more than 3,700 films. Kim Yutani, Sundance’s director of programming said at the time that “this year’s show reflects the puzzling and uncertain times we have experienced in the last year and a half.”


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