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Sundance Film Festival moved completely online due to rising Covid cases

The festival will proceed as planned from January 20 with screening schedules adjusted for online audiences (Arthur Mola/AP)
The festival will proceed as planned from January 20 with screening schedules adjusted for online audiences (Arthur Mola/AP)

The annual Sundance Film Festival will be held completely online this year due to the rising numbers of coronavirus cases.

Organisers said it was a “deep loss” not to have an in-person event but that pressing ahead as planned was neither “safe nor feasible”.

The 2022 festival in Park City, Utah, was scheduled to be a “hybrid” event, with both virtual and in-person access.

Sundance Institute chief executive Joana Vicente and festival director Tabitha Jackson explained the “difficult decision” in a statement online.

“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,” they said.

“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.

“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.”

They continued: “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.

“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.”

It comes as other major festivals and award ceremonies in the entertainment industry were forced to cancel or postpone events due to the surge in Omicron cases.

The 64th Grammy Awards, due to take place in Los Angeles on January 31, have been postponed until a later date.

The Critics Choice Awards also moved their January date, while the Palm Springs Film Festival last month cancelled its 2022 event completely.

Sundance organisers said the festival would proceed as planned from January 20 with screening schedules adjusted for online audiences.

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