One of America’s biggest and most prestigious film festivals canceled all in-person events and screenings Wednesday, two weeks before the festival was to start, over COVID-19 fears.
The Sundance Film Festival announced on social media and in a note to pass- and ticket-holders that all film screenings and events will occur online via streaming applications and platforms.
“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 eleven-day festival while overwhelmed communities are already struggling to provide essential services,” the festival organizers said in the email to pass-holders.
The festival canceled nearly all in-person events at its Park City, Utah, home in 2021 because of the coronavirus epidemic.
But organizers had hoped that this year’s festival, set for Jan. 20-30, would be a “hybrid,” mixing online streaming with in-person events and shows in Park City, nearby Salt Lake City, and some “satellite” venues around the nation.
“This was a difficult decision to make … 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,” the festival said.
The late-January festival, named for one of the most iconic characters of festival founder Robert Redford, kicks off the independent- and foreign-film season for the year.
In a typical year about 80 feature films play, plus a greater number of shorts, along with parts of episodic TV shows, VR presentations and similar installations.
Among the major film-makers who the festival helped boost are Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Steven Soderbergh, Paul Thomas Anderson and Robert Rodriguez, and the hit films launched there include “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Napoleon Dynamite,” “Donnie Darko,” “Saw,” and “Whiplash.”