Sundance Film Festival moves online as Omicron surge sparks ‘difficult decision’
The Sundance Film Festival moves online once again this year, as Omicron scuppers in-person plans to bring creative talent together.
As a nonprofit arts organization, the Sundance Institute has held the event for close to forty years to support artists and introduce their work to audiences, creating a community around independent storytelling.
Sundance said in a statement: “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.”
The Festival is usually held in-person in Utah and the event has introduced some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, and Reservoir Dogs.
The organisers said it was a “difficult decision”, but stated: “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.”
The Festival is important not only to the artists and audiences who gather each year, but also an essential fundraiser for underwriting the Institute’s year-round artist support work. The Institute has been forced online for the past two years due to Covid restrictions.
The Festival will begin January 20, and will host 11 days of online programming, with screening schedule adjustments to account for an online only schedule. It will also host screenings for local communities around the world from January 28-30.