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Sundance 2022 will be virtual.
Sundance 2022 will be virtual. Photo: Sundance Film Festival

The Sundance Festival to go virtual amid Omicron

The world-renowned independent film festival will be held virtually thanks to the major increase in COVID cases due to the Omicron variant.

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The whole world is amid an explosion of COVID infections caused by the Omicron variant, and many of the events that were organized for the beginning of the year have taken a step back to assess and rethink approaches. Between postponements and cancellations, the Sundance organization has decided that all events scheduled to be held in-person this year will be online.

"We were looking forward to holding our first fully hybrid Sundance Film Festival and our teams have spent a year planning a festival like no other. Despite the most ambitious protocols, the omicron variant with its unexpectedly high contagion rates is pushing the limits of health, travel and other infrastructure security in the country," organizers confirmed in a statement on Wednesday, Jan. 5.

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The festival, which had planned to have a hybrid version this year, has been forced to move to an online-only format to avoid crowds and the potential COVID exposure for artists, audience members, workers and volunteers involved in the organization. 

Although it has proved to be a difficult decision, the organization is confident that spectators will still be able to enjoy the "magic and energy" of the event. In a way, the move allows the date of the festival to remain as planned, starting on Jan. 20 and lasting 11 days, as planned.

Until a few weeks ago, Sundance was expected to be one of the first film festivals to return us to a fully attended, full-capacity format. However, as the health care landscape stands, it will be one of the first festivals to return to the online format to avoid putting the community at risk.

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