The Sundance Film Festival’s in-person return has been cancelled due to an increase of COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant, and the festival will now be completely virtual. The festival was set to run from January 20 to 30, including a virtual component for those who couldn’t attend it in person.
The film festival had to cancel the in-person event because to an increase of COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant. The festival’s organisers made the announcement that “Despite the most ambitious protocols, the Omicron variation is straining the limits of health safety, travel, and other infrastructures across the country.”
They said, “This year, the festival’s in-person Utah features will be moved online. While we’re unhappy that we won’t be able to offer the complete hybrid experience and assemble in person as planned, audiences will still be able to enjoy the beauty and spirit of our festival this year.
“The Sundance Institute went on to say how tough it was to make the decision, given the fact that “Our Sundance spirit as a non-profit is about making something work against the odds. However, with case numbers in our host community expected to surge the week of the festival, we cannot knowingly put our personnel and community at danger.
In this climate, putting excessive strain on Summit County’s health services and our more than 1,500 employees and volunteers would be irresponsible.”
They said that virtual portals will provide access to new films, extended reality (“XR”) programmes, artist talks, and other content. Sundance had planned to implement COVID safety precautions such as mandating booster shots and negative test results, as well as banning food and drink from being eaten during screenings. Given that domestic movie theatres have not yet closed in the wake of the new variant, organisers were hoping that Sundance could take place in person and in fact, Sony’s ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ continues to drive the people to the cinema in record epidemic numbers. Sundance isn’t just a collection of limited film screenings.
Over the course of the 10-day event, creative and industry professionals attend panel talks, filmmaker dinners, late-night after-parties, and hospitality lounges. The Grammy Awards, the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the Film Academy’s annual Governors Awards, and the planned broadcast of the Critics Choice Awards have all been impacted by the Omicron surge. In 2021, Sundance hosted a virtual edition and conducted select physical screenings in cities across the United States.