Record editorial: Sundance return welcome, but public health must remain in spotlight |

Record editorial: Sundance return welcome, but public health must remain in spotlight

Sundance return welcome, but public health remains in spotlight

The Sundance Film Festival on Tuesday said it intends to return to Park City as an in-person event in January of 2023, after canceling live events this year and in 2021 with the pandemic ripping through the world.

The announcement should be welcome to even to the most hardened detractors of the festival, which is the largest special event of the year in Park City. It brings with it the annoyances of traffic and Hollywood-style entitlement but also an extraordinary economic boost and the chance to see the best of independent filmmaking.

Sundance ended in 2020, just before the coronavirus forced the shutdowns that spring. It was clear the 2021 festival would not be held in the traditional manner even before it was moved online. The event earlier this year was moved to a digital-only format, as well, as coronavirus cases mounted.

At this point in the pandemic, though, it makes sense for Sundance to plan for a return to the community. Large gatherings like sporting events, concerts and festivals of various sorts have been staged in the past year in the Park City area without subsequent significant upticks in case counts.

Sundance is, of course, larger than the others and is held indoors, two factors that make the festival more complicated in regards to public health. We see there being the opportunity, as of now, to stage a safe Sundance in 2023 even though it will likely be challenging.

Sundance said in the Tuesday announcement it will publicize information about health and vaccine protocols closer the opening of the festival. Those details will be crucial to a successful Sundance in January. We expect Sundance to rigidly follow any protocols that could be in place at the time given the great risks of not doing so. No exceptions, even for the industry power players who will also return to Park City.

Sundance should also be prepared to quickly react to changes in the health situation if that is needed in the final weeks or months before the opening. The organizers need to be ready for the possibility of a cancellation of the in-person element of the festival, even as late as the weeks before the scheduled opening, as occurred this year.

We hope that is not the case and, instead, the Sundance spotlight is again focused on Park City in January.

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