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Sundance is going virtual due to Omicron fears

It looks like it is happening all over again in 2022, with the latest surges in Covid cases due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant which was first reported last year in South Africa following which it was labelled as a “variant of concern” by the WHO. The film industry is among the first to be affected once again, with the rapid cancellations of mass gatherings such as film festivals.

In December, multiple festivals had to announce that they were going to cancel their proceedings due to the latest government instructions about how to handle the rising threat of the Omicron variant. Many of the festivals did not have the infrastructure to shift to a digital mode unlike some of the bigger festivals out there.

Among them was the Palm Springs Film Festival which had already been pushed back to March but the organisers felt that it was better to cancel. However, one of the biggest festivals of the year, Sundance, has opted to shift to the virtual method for screening highly-anticipated films just like the virtual events of 2020 when the pandemic first broke out.

The organisers explained that shifting to the virtual platform was a better option given the situation since many of the strictest Covid protocols would not be feasible because of the high transmissibility rates of the Omicron variant. They are currently contacting ticket holders to update the tickets in order to facilitate digital viewings.

“While it is a deep loss to not have the in-person experience in Utah,” the organisers said in a statement. “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.”