Sundance Film Festival in person 2022
Park City's Egyptian Theater. Photo courtesy of Sundance

The Sundance Film Festival has cancelled all in-person events, making it the latest event to alter its plans in response to the surging Omicron variant. The festival will proceed online.

“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. And so, today we’re announcing: the Festival’s in-person Utah elements will be moving online this year,” Sundance said in a statement.

“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.”

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The festival added that it did not believe it was “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 event would have included 1,500 staff and volunteers. The decision came as the U.S. reported a single-day record of daily COVID cases — more than 1 million new infections.

The move online means Sundance will reproduce last year’s festival, one of many successful online festivals that still managed to generate buzz and attention for worthy films despite the lack of face-to-face networking.

But it is still a loss, since, as Sundance noted, the festival is “themost essential fundraiser for underwriting the Institute’s  year-round artist support work,” which includes grants and workshops for filmmakers on the rise.

The online festival will begin Thursday, January 20, and seven satellite partners will host screenings in their local communities, as they did in drive-in last year, from January 28-30.