Remember when 2021 was drawing to a close and we all looked forward to 2022 because there was no way it could be worse? Well, so far they aren’t so different. The Omicron variant has basically set us back to square one. Last year, the Sundance Film Festival was an all-virtual event due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but the plan this time was to do a hybrid event with in-person screenings. Well, not so fast, Park City!
Sundance has announced it is moving to a completely virtual festival for 2022. There will no longer be any in-person screenings of festival films in Utah, due to the rapid spread of Omicron across the U.S.
If you’ve been reading this site for a while then you know attending Sundance is my favorite thing in the world. I dearly missed being there last year, and was all booked and ready to be there in Park City in a couple of weeks. Then I caught COVID-19 in December and it put me on my ass. As other people I knew, all fully vaxxed and boosted like myself, came down with the virus I began to realize this situation was untenable and Sundance would have to change to virtual. And so, here we are.
Our coverage will remain the same. For about a week during the festival it will be the vast majority of what we do, and I thank all of our readers who continue to support us so that it’s possible every single year.
The Sundance Film Festival begins on January 20th. Read a portion of Sundance’s statement below:
We have been looking forward to our first fully hybrid Sundance Film Festival and our teams have spent a year planning a festival like no other. But despite the most ambitious protocols, the Omicron variant with its unexpectedly high transmissibility rates is pushing the limits of health safety, travel and other infrastructures across the country. And so, today we’re announcing: the Festival’s in-person Utah elements will be moving online this year. While we’re disappointed to not provide the full hybrid experience and gather in-person as intended, audiences this year will still experience the magic and energy of our Festival with bold new films and XR work, the discovery of new storytellers, direct encounters with artists, and an innovative globally accessible social platform and gallery space. Our partner community will also be adding a vibrant dimension to the festival with a rich mix of conversation, talent talks and events.
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.
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.