The Sundance Institute announced Tuesday night that it has cancelled its Los Angeles-area drive-in movie screenings due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, and will be moving the planned films online.
“The safety and well-being of our audiences, community and staff is the most important thing to Sundance Institute and Sundance Film Festival. In consideration of the overall public health situation in the Los Angeles area and the trajectory of the spread of the virus there, the health guidelines, and crisis the hospital systems are facing we will be pivoting our planned drive-in screenings to our online platform. We have made case-by-case health and safety evaluations in our other Satellite Screen locations as well; audiences in markets where in-person gathering is inadvisable will also be joining us online,” the organization said in a statement.
“When we designed the expression of the 2021 Festival it was with the online platform at the core. We wanted to gather in person where possible and planned to dial elements up and down based on the health situation in our locations at the time of the event. We have built the digital platform so that Festivalgoers online can screen work across the entire program and take part in premiere screenings followed by a live online Q&A with the artists and filmmakers,” the group continued.
The announcement comes on the same day Los Angeles county surpassed 11,000 total deaths from COVID-19.
The drive-in screenings were part of the organization’s plan to cope with COVID in 2021, an ambitious combination of virtual screenings and a network of local events in more than 30 cities around the United States. In Los Angeles, public drive-in screenings were planned for the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and the Mission Tiki in Montclair.
In place of the usual Park City, Utah event lasting 11 days, the 2021 Sundance Film Festival will take place over seven days. In addition, it plans to hold events at The Ray, a Park City theater that is one of the festival’s usual venues, but the more than 70 films in the lineup will all have virtual premieres followed live Q&As, viewable anywhere in the United States, and in some cases globally.