Sundance Film Fest cancels in-person events to go virtual

Park City, Utah - The Sundance Film Festival has canceled its ambitious plans for in-person events in Utah later this month.

The Sundance Film Festival will now be mostly virtual for the second consecutive year.
The Sundance Film Festival will now be mostly virtual for the second consecutive year.  © Collage: IMAGO/Danita Delimont & UPI Photo, 123RF/jagcz

Instead of hosting Hollywood elite for red carpet premieres, parties, and panel discussions surrounding newly released movies in the traditional hub of Park City, the 2022 festival will now be mostly virtual for the second consecutive year.

The decision was made by festival organizers in the face of the fast-moving Omicron variant.

"While it is a deep loss to not have the in-person experience in Utah, we do not believe it is safe nor feasible to gather thousands of artists, audiences, employees, volunteers, and partners from around the world, for an eleven-day festival while overwhelmed communities are already struggling to provide essential services," said a statement released by the festival.

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The statement also added, "This was a difficult decision to make. As a nonprofit, our Sundance spirit is in making something work against the odds. But with case numbers forecasted to peak in our host community the week of the festival we cannot knowingly put our staff and community at risk.

"The undue stress to Summit County’s health services and our more than 1,500 staff and volunteers would be irresponsible in this climate. It has become increasingly clear over the last few days that this is the right decision to make for the care and well-being of all of our community," it finished.

The 2022 program will feature screenings of over 80 films

Sundance Film Festival's last in-person event in 2019 saw Hollywood actors Lupita Nyong'o (l.), Lily Collins (m.), and Zac Efron (r.) walking the red carpet.
Sundance Film Festival's last in-person event in 2019 saw Hollywood actors Lupita Nyong'o (l.), Lily Collins (m.), and Zac Efron (r.) walking the red carpet.  © Collage: IMAGO/MediaPunch & Future Image

The seven satellite locations around the country also scheduled to host screenings will move ahead as planned, local conditions permitting.

Late last month, the festival had announced increased health safety protocols in an attempt to salvage the in-person events in Sundance’s longtime home of Park City. Boosters were to be required for all attendees, and masks would have been required to be worn at all times during screenings and events.

Last year’s Sundance Film Festival was conceived as a mostly online event and reached the largest audience in the festival’s history.

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A number of films from 2021 are competitive in the current awards season, including Siân Heder’s CODA, Rebecca Hall’s Passing, Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee, and Amir "Questlove" Thompson’s Summer of Soul.

The program for the 2022 festival, announced in early December, includes more than 80 feature films, with documentaries on Bill Cosby and Kanye West, the first feature film directed by Lena Dunham in more than 10 years, a documentary on Lucille Ball directed by Amy Poehler, and a look at the rivalry between boxers Julio Cesar Chavez and Oscar De La Hoya directed by Eva Longoria Baston.

The 2022 Sundance Film Festival will still begin its 11 days of programming on Jan. 20.

The festival's move coincided on Wednesday with the Grammy Awards' announcement of its postponement.

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO/Danita Delimont & UPI Photo, 123RF/jagcz

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