Sundance plans to gather info on film-goers, an important step in coronavirus contact tracing |

Sundance plans to gather info on film-goers, an important step in coronavirus contact tracing

The Egyptian Theatre has for years been an iconic Sundance Film Festival screening room.
Park Record file photo

Sundance Film Festival organizers intend to gather information about people attending screenings in person as part of the protocols influenced by the continued spread of the novel coronavirus, an important step in the process of contact tracing should there be exposure to someone with the illness during a showing.

Sundance described the information-gathering plans in a submittal to City Hall that was released early in the week in anticipation of a Park City Council meeting scheduled on Thursday. The submittal includes details about the planned information gathering and other protocols as festival organizers and Park City officials prepare to finalize the blueprints for an event that will be greatly scaled back from a typical year. Mayor Andy Beerman and the City Council on Thursday are expected to approve a set of operational changes to the 2021 event amid rising coronavirus case numbers.

The information gathering outlined by Sundance is one of the intriguing aspects of the broader plans. According to the submittal, people who hold a pass will submit a request for attendance at a screening that is held in person. Sundance at that point will “capture their contact information” and “use this information to cross-reference the pass holders who arrive at the theater,” it says. The information will be provided to members of what Sundance describes as the Health Safety Team.

People who buy tickets, meanwhile, will provide contact information as they make purchases. The information will be used in a similar fashion as what is gathered from pass holders.

There is concern about the potential for the sickness to spread through a screening room — a confined space inside — during Sundance, and that worry has seemed to largely drive the plans for the in-person screenings slated for Park City.

Jenny Diersen, the economic development program manager at City Hall, said the submittal from Sundance, called a COVID-19 Event Management Template, is a state-required form that is kept on file at City Hall. Municipal staffers and Summit County health officials review the information, but the form is not separately approved or rejected by either City Hall or the County Courthouse. Diersen said she supports the steps Sundance organizers outlined in the form.

“I think Sundance has put in a ton of work,” she said, adding that the plans meet or exceed health protocols.

The steps could be modified based on the public health situation at the time of Sundance.

Sundance is scheduled to run from Jan. 28 until Feb. 3 and will be held largely online. One Park City screening room is planned, at The Ray theater at Holiday Village. The submittal outlines a schedule at The Ray involving five screenings per day with a maximum of 25 people at each screening, or a total of 625 film-goers throughout the festival.

The submittal indicates Sundance will require physical distancing in lines and in the screening room. It says people will be seated “scattered in the theatre” to ensure a minimum 6-foot distance between people from different households. Seats will be “marked off in advance of each screening by the theater team to ensure proper distancing and to avoid confusion around which seats are available,” the submittal says. It adds that Sundance will “alternate the rows of theater seats used for each screening, so no seats will be used in back to back screenings to allow for additional time between use to reduce touch exposure potential.”

The City Council meeting on Thursday is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. and will be held electronically. The elected officials are scheduled to take public input prior to a vote on the Sundance plans. More information about attending the meeting virtually is available on the City Hall website,

The meeting on Thursday will follow months of talks between City Hall and Sundance about the reduced scale for the 2021 festival and in the days after Sundance made public the detailed plans.

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