The Sundance Film Festival canceled its ambitious plans for in-person events in Utah later this month. Instead of hosting red carpet premieres, parties and roundtables in the traditional center of Park City, the 2022 festival will now be mostly virtual for the second year in a row, a decision made by festival organizers in the face of the variant. Rapidly evolving Omicron.
“While it is a profound loss not to have the in-person experience in Utah, we do not think it is safe or feasible to bring together thousands of artists, audiences, staff, volunteers and partners from around the world, for an eleventh day of the festival as overwhelmed communities are already struggling to provide essential services, ”said a statement released by the festival.
The statement also added: “It was a difficult decision to make. As a non-profit organization, our Sundance spirit is to make something work against the odds. But with the number of cases expected to peak in our host community during festival week, we cannot knowingly put our staff and community at risk. The undue stress on Summit County Health Services and our more than 1,500 staff and volunteers would be irresponsible in this climate. It has become increasingly clear over the past few days that this is the right decision for the care and well-being of our entire community. “
The seven satellite sites across the country, also slated to host screenings, will advance as planned, local conditions permitting.
The cancellation of in-person activities at Sundance in Utah comes as many other entertainment events grapple with the emerging variant of Omicron. The Grammy Awards, slated for Jan. 31, were postponed shortly before Sundance’s announcement. The Critics Choice Awards had previously abandoned plans for a Jan.9 show, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Governors’ Awards had been postponed from Jan.15. The Palm Spring International Film Festival also canceled its awards gala and then canceled the entire festival.
At the end of last month, Sundance announced increased health safety protocols in an attempt to save the events in person at the festival’s longtime home, Park City. Boosters were to be required for all participants, and masks should have been worn at all times during screenings and events.
Last year, the Sundance Film Festival was conceived as a primarily online event and reached the largest audiences in the history of the festival. A number of 2021 films are competitive in the current awards season, including “CODA” by Siân Heder, “Passing” by Rebecca Hall, “Flee” by Jonas Poher Rasmussen and “Summer of Soul” by Amir “Questlove. Thompson.
The 2022 festival lineup, 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 over 10 years, a documentary on Lucille Ball directed by Amy Poehler and a look at the rivalry between boxers Julio César Chávez and Oscar De La Hoya directed by Eva Longoria Bastón. The top US drama competition includes films starring John Boyega, Dakota Johnson, and Regina Hall, among others.
Among those who responded to the news were executives from other festivals who have seen their recent editions affected by the pandemic. Cameron Bailey, General Manager of the Toronto International Film Festival, said online: “Courage and strength to our colleagues at Sundance and to all guest filmmakers. Call difficult but the right one. Also, Eugene Hernandez, director of the New York Film Festival, posted: “It was the right decision, obv. I can’t wait to check out as many Sundance films as I can from home again this year. “
When the show was first announced, filmmaker Carlota Pereda, whose film “Piggy” will premiere in the midnight section of Sundance, spoke about the distinction between seeing the work in person and virtually.
“Look, you want your movies to be seen. That’s why you do it, ”Pereda said. “You want to reach people and you want the film to find its audience.
“I love going to the theater. Obviously that’s the best thing, ”noted Pereda. “As long as people experience the love of cinema, I’m just happy when they do it or wherever they do it.”
The 2022 Sundance Film Festival will still begin its 11 days of programming on January 20. Single ticket sales had previously been postponed to January 12 for members and January 13 for the general public. Festival updates will be available to pass, package and ticket buyers who previously purchased tickets for canceled in-person events.