Calling it a “deep loss,” the organizers of the annual Sundance Film Festival have announced the “difficult decision” to turn the in-person elements of year’s event in Utah into an online one. 

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is to blame.

“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,” the organizers opened their announcement. “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.”

The statement continued, “As a nonprofit, our Sundance spirit is in making something work against the odds. But 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,” saying doing so “would be irresponsible in this climate.”

The Festival will instead be held virtually, starting as planned on Thursday, January 20, and continuing for eleven days. Already scheduled online elements of the festival will remain unchanged, but the event’s film screenings — the key draw of the annual gathering that started in 1978 — will be both online, and unspool in various locations from January 28-30 with the help of the festival’s satellite partners.

The Sundance Film Festival statement adds, “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.”


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