The Sundance Film Festival had all of us excited to return to an in-person gathering to celebrate independent filmmaking. After two years in the pandemic, the return to film festivals gave us hope.

Unfortunately, the excitement to return was short-lived as Sundance announced that its in-person event was canceled due to the rise of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. The Omicron variant became an overwhelming issue when planning for the physical return to Park City, Utah.

Organizers for the film festival made a statement in regards to moving the event exclusively online, saying, “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.” 

While Sundance is devoted to working against the odds, the odds sometimes win. With the number of rising cases of infestation and the overwhelming stress of Summit County’s health services at the time, the safest option is to make the festival virtual once again. 

Sundance had planned to institute COVID safety measures, requiring proof of vaccine, booster shots, and negative COVID tests as well as banning food and drinks at screenings. Organizers were hopeful that these measures would be enough to ensure an in-person event in the wake of the new variant. 

As COVID cases rise, many events such as the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the Academy’s annual Governors Awards, the Grammy Awards, and the Critics Choice Awards may go virtual once again. 

Luckily, Sundance’s virtual event will include new films, extended reality (XR) programming, artists’ conversations, and more content, which will all be accessible through virtual portals. 

While we are disappointed by the fact that we won’t be able to be back in person to celebrate and talk about filmmaking, we understand that people’s health and safety are very important and must be taken into consideration at all times. 

What are your thoughts on Sundance going virtual again? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Variety