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Due to the sheer Omicron rush, the Sundance Film Festival will go virtual

The film festival decided to cancel the in-person event because of an increase in COVID-19 cases caused by Omicron

Due to the sheer Omicron rush, the Sundance Film Festival will go virtual
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The Sundance Film Festival's in-person comeback has been cancelled due to an increase of COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron mutation, and the festival will now be entirely virtual.

According to Variety, the festival was set to run from January 20 to 30, including a virtual component for those who couldn't make it in person.

The film festival had to cancel the in-person event because to an increase of COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron strain. The festival's organisers made the announcement on Wednesday.

"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," organisers said in a statement.

They added, "The festival's in-person Utah elements will be moving online this year. 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."

The Sundance Institute added how difficult the decision was to make given that "as a nonprofit, our Sundance spirit is in making something work against the odds. 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. The undue stress to Summit County's health services and our more than 1,500 staff and volunteers would be irresponsible in this climate."

They said that virtual portals will provide access to new films, extended reality ("XR") programmes, artist talks, and other content.

Sundance had planned to implement COVID safety precautions such as mandating booster shots and negative test results, as well as prohibiting food and drink from being consumed during screenings.

Given that domestic movie theatres have not yet shuttered in the aftermath of the new variation, organisers were hoping that Sundance could take place in person — and in fact, Sony's 'Spider-Man: No Way Home' continues to attract the people to the cinema in record epidemic numbers.

Sundance isn't merely a collection of sparse film screenings. Over the course of the 10-day event, creative and industry professionals attend panel talks, filmmaker dinners, late-night after-parties, and hospitality lounges.

The Grammy Awards, the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the Film Academy's annual Governors Awards, and the planned broadcast of the Critics Choice Awards have all been impacted by the Omicron surge.

In 2021, Sundance hosted a virtual edition and conducted select physical screenings in cities around the United States.

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