Sundance film festival unveils COVID-19 pandemic screening plan

Source: AFP Published: 2020/12/3 18:28:42

The Sundance film festival unveiled plans Wednesday to screen premieres at drive-ins and arthouse theaters across the US and online, as the movie industry continues to adapt to the crippling effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Co-founded by actor-director Robert Redford some four decades ago and known for introducing indie classics from Quentin Tarantino's debut Reservoir Dogs to the Oscar-winning Whiplash, Sundance typically takes place each January and February in the mountains of the western state of Utah.

But with theaters closed across much of the nation and a deadly third wave of the disease showing little sign of abating, festivals have become just one key element of the film industry upended by the crisis.

Utah has suffered over 200,000 infections including 900 deaths, with Governor Gary Herbert declaring a state of emergency in November as new daily cases hit record levels.

"Even under these impossible circumstances artists are still finding paths to make bold and vital work in whatever ways they can," said festival director Tabitha Jackson.

Socially-distanced premieres and online screenings at venues from California to New York "gives us the opportunity to reach new audiences, safely, where they are," she added.

A theater in the festival's traditional home of Park City, Utah, and two drive-ins in the Los Angeles area are scheduled to host physical events featuring artists, while online premieres will be followed by live virtual Q&As.

Throughout 2020, major summer and fall festivals - with the exception of Venice - scrapped most of their physical events, or in the case of Cannes and Telluride were canceled entirely. 

Toronto - North America's largest movie gathering - took place online for the most part.

The shortened Sundance festival will run from January 28 through February 3, 2021.

Its lineup of 70-plus movies has not yet been announced, but may include films eligible for 2021's delayed Oscars which are scheduled to take place on April 25, 2021.


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