After going virtual in 2021, the Sundance Film Festival is planning a return to in-person events next year. But the return comes with one major requirement: Anyone attending the festival, or Sundance-affiliated events, must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We are providing this information now to ensure that all in-person participants feel comfortable attending, and can adjust their travel plans if needed,” Tabitha Jackson, the festival’s director, said in a statement on Tuesday.
The announcement comes as Utah has seen a recent surge in COVID-19 cases sparked by the highly contagious delta variant — a surge not expected to slow until this fall, the Deseret News reported.
Jackson, who is in her second year as festival director, added that other details regarding theater capacity and policies on masks will come closer to the festival, which will run Jan. 20 through Jan. 30, 2022.
The Sundance Institute is currently building its program for the 2022 festival, which will hold screenings in-person at locations in Park City, Salt Lake City and the Sundance Mountain Resort, as well as virtually.
All official feature film selections (the festival is anticipating around 80 selections — slightly higher than the 73 that premiered at the 2021 festival) will play in-person and online, according to Jackson’s message, which was emailed to the Deseret News.
The festival will keep the custom-built online platform that viewers used earlier this year for this purpose. Jackson said that format allowed for people who had never attended the festival for various reasons to participate for the first time.
After going virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Sundance Film Festival reported its biggest audience ever, with 251,331 total views of features, short films and indie series films, the Deseret News reported. The festival equated that to more than 500,000 views since each household would likely have at least two people in it.
Highlights from the 2021 festival included a documentary on the origins of “Sesame Street,” a documentary chronicling the life of “Joy Luck Club” author Amy Tan — which marked the final project from Robert Redford’s son, James Redford, who died in October 2020 — and “Summer of Soul,” a project from The Roots’ Questlove that shed light on the little-known Harlem Music Festival that happened at the same time as Woodstock.
When factoring in all of the festival’s virtual events, Sundance Institute estimated there were more than 600,000 total views in 2021 — 168% higher than 2020, the Deseret News reported.
Now, with the 2022 festival about six months out, Jackson said she looks forward to seeing new films — and seeing faces, new and old.
“We are delighted that the community can once again make the annual pilgrimage back to the festival in Utah, and we also invite audiences to join us online from wherever they are,” she said.
Films will premiere from Jan. 20, through Jan. 25, with additional screenings running through the end of the festival, according to the news release. Awards will be announced on Jan. 28., with the award winners screening both in-person and online through Jan. 30.