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What Will the Sundance Film Festival Look Like in 2021?

Sundance won’t be just for Utah next year

It’s one of the biggest events that Utah sees on a yearly basis. Thanks to the pandemic, 2021 will see some changes regarding the scope of the festival. Tabitha Jackson, director of the Sundance Film Festival, issued a statement today to help explain what next year, and possibly the future, could look like for Sundance.

“Large events, shuttle buses, and crowded waitlist tents cannot be supported, which may limit the number of theaters we use during the Festival in Utah.” – Tabitha Jackson, director of the Sundance Film Festival

We are 7 months away from the parties and screenings but with restrictions abound, Jackson states, “We are allowed to gather, but there is no widely available COVID-19 vaccine. With the knowledge that as of now socially distanced gatherings are permitted in Utah and other states, but travel is greatly reduced — and large events, shuttle buses, and crowded waitlist tents cannot be supported, which may limit the number of theaters we use during the Festival in Utah.”

What does that mean? Well, while Park City will still serve as festival headquarters, Sundance will “extends beyond Utah and will be co-created by and for different communities in different locations.” That’s at least 20 locations in Utah, the United States, and internationally. Sundance is in “exploratory discussions with cinemas from LA to Louisville, from New York to Nashville, from Austin to Atlanta, from Detroit to Denver, from Minneapolis to Mexico City — with many more to come.” The fact is that theaters are beginning to open as the number of those infected with COVID-19 continues to rise. You can’t pack out theaters, library auditorium, and bars when you have such a dangerous disease running rampant while scientists and medical professionals are rushing to get ahead of it.

Expect there to a large online aspect of the festival saying, “This will be the nucleus of the Festival” and that “audiences will have the opportunity to view the curated program and take part in discussions and special live events online via a brand-new platform.”

The festival is also considering moving the festival kickoff date to January 28th, one week later than usual, “to provide some room between the U.S. presidential inauguration and the start of the Festival.”

No doubt this will have a huge negative impact on Salt Lake City and Park City’s economies, especially in our service and hospitality industries. According to Variety, Sundance brings $192,000,000 of economic impact to our state.  That’s “$18.6 million in state and local tax revenue; supported 3,052 jobs; and generated $94 million in Utah wages” according to the article.

You can read Tabitha Jackson’s full statement on the Sundance Institue’s website.

 


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