Sundance Film Festival moves online due to omicron surge

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The Egyptian Theater is a popular venue that usually houses audiences to view films at the Sundance Film Festival. The festival will be online this year due to the pandemic. (Weston Bury)

The Sundance Institute announced on Wednesday, Jan. 5 that the 2022 Sundance Film Festival will be solely online this year.

The 11-day festival, set to begin Jan. 20, 2022 in Park City, Utah, was originally planned as a hybrid event. On Wednesday, the Sundance Institute released a statement informing that all in-person events will be cancelled due to an increase in COVID-19 cases spurred by the omicron variant.

“The festival’s in-person Utah elements will be moving online this year,” Sundance officials said in the press release. “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 11-day festival while overwhelmed communities are already struggling to provide essential services.”

BYU theater student Nahee Choi expressed disappointment at the news.

“There’s a special energy of having people show up and have audiences in person,” Choi said. “But I’m glad it’s not completely cancelled.”

The Sundance Institute added in the statement that executing this virtual event of 2022 will build on the success of the 2021 Film Festival which was also an exclusively virtual event.

“We ask for your patience as we work to make the necessary adjustments,” Sundance officials said in the press release. “Today as we navigate all that the pandemic throws at us we go back to what is certain: gathering together – in whatever way we can – is profound.” 

Sundance Institute managing director Betsy Wallace acknowledged that it is a loss for the gathering to not be in person for the second year in a row. However, she also said they are hoping to repeat the success of last year’s virtual festival.

“Having improved on the online platform we developed successfully last year is such a silver lining,” Wallace said. “As a festival, gathering is vital to what we do and we’ll still gather, online, for the safety of the Sundance community and our host communities in Utah.”

Free online screenings will be available to Utahns on the Sundance website along with discounted tickets for students.

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