2022 Sundance Film Festival Goes Virtual and Cancels “Hybrid” Event

Crowds at Sundance Film Festival

2022 Sundance Film Festival: Update

The Sundance Institute announced today that they’re caving to the Omicron variant.

“The 2022 Sundance Film Festival’s in-person Utah elements will be moving online this year. 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.”

The Institute had hoped to bring their annual Sundance Film Festival back to an in-person experience, but the recent record spread of the Covid-19 virus in Park City and beyond forced their hand. When you think about it, it’s not really that thousands of attendees might get sick; it’s that staff, volunteers and resources would fall victim. Look at what happened this Christmas- hundreds of employees got sick and stayed home leaving the resorts and support services to operate at half-capacity, obscene liftlines, limited terrain, no dining availability, cancelled flights and all-around pissed-off guests. Can you imagine the lines at the theaters and venues if half the volunteer staff went missing?

No Hybrid 2022 Sundance Film Festival

Sundance had been looking forward to the first fully hybrid 2022 Sundance Film Festival (and I was too! Watching movies from my couch but hitting the speaker series and parties that were cancelled last year). However, Omicron’s high transmissibility rates “is pushing the limits of health safety, travel and other infrastructures across the country. 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 Festival is the most important fundraising tool the Sundance Institute has for underwriting the year-round artist support labs so they’re not about to go silent for a year. Therefore in two weeks, audiences will gather online starting Jan. 20, 2022 as promised. Screening schedules are being adjusted to add those that would have only premiered in person. I’m totally psyched for the entire Animation Program to be online! Seven “satellite partners” will also host screenings for locals from January 28-30. As previously announced, single tickets will go on sale January 13 (January 12 for the membership pre-sale) at 10 a.m. MST. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, this is a good call. The Christmas period had a terrible impact on our town. Sure, the hotels and CEOs at Vail Resorts were rejoicing but locals and guests struggled. Sundance brings nearly 50 thousand people to town. Egads! The bright side of this is that if you are thinking about a Park City ski vacation, get your asses out here! Lodging will be clearance sale cheap and the resorts and restaurants empty. And I’m now freed up for more private lessons. 😉


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