The Sundance Film Festival has canceled its in-person events for 2022. The festival, which was scheduled to take place in person between Thursday, January 20, and Sunday, January 30, in Park City, Utah, will now take place wholly online. The news comes in response to the surging Omicron variant of COVID-19. The festival organizers gave the reasoning behind the announcement in a statement: “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.”
“The undue stress to Summit County’s health services and our more than 1,500 staff and volunteers would be irresponsible in this climate,” the statement continues. “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.”
Sundance Film Festival was always intended to be a hybrid event, and virtual elements are going ahead as planned for 11 days of online programming, “with screening schedule adjustments to account for an online only schedule.” According to the organizers, in-person screenings will still take place in seven local communities between January 28 and 30.
Just yesterday, IndieWire had reported that “distributors, sales agents, and publicists confirmed that they had no immediate plans to change their intentions of attending unless Sundance itself canceled the physical event.” A Sundance representative commented at the time, “We are working thoughtfully and quickly to assess the public health situation in Utah, speaking with our partners in Summit County, and others critical to producing the in-person experience.” In-person attendance would have required two vaccinations, a booster, and proof of negative test results.
In 2021, the festival held a virtual edition. Many wonder if Sundance 2020 was an early superspreader event, with many attendees later reporting symptoms of an illness that would line up with accounts of COVID-19.