The newest surge of COVID-19 has been responsible for a number of recent canceled events, and today, the in-person activities of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival have been added to the ever-growing list. With big cities like New York and L.A. reporting record-breaking numbers of COVID cases daily, this news is hardly surprising, especially as, in 2020, Sundance brought in around 117,000 people, almost a third of which were from out of state.
Over the past couple of weeks, Sundance, which is slated to start on January 20th, has been changing its plans in the wake of other film festivals, such as the Palm Springs International Film Festival, being canceled. First, they announced a hybrid online and in-person festival, and then announced that they were requiring booster shots for all in-person members. Now, according to Sundance’s social media the program will take place completely online, as it did last year.
In a statement to Variety, festival organizers said: “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.”
Still, organizers are optimistic that the festival will have a high viewership this year and will allow people to properly celebrate film. Last year, Sundance’s online edition boasted 600,000 views, which was, in part, due to its user-friendly interface.
The statement added: “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.”
Sundance will run virtually from January 20 – 30, and Paste will be still be covering it—now from home.