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Sundance Film Festival Has To Go Virtual Due To Omicron

  (CNN) -- The Sundance Film Festival, planned as a hybrid of both virtual and in-person screening events in Park City, Utah later this month, has moved the entire event online, citing Covid-19 concerns.

"We have been looking forward to our first fully hybrid Sundance Film Festival and our teams have spent a year planning a festival like no other. But in spite of the most ambitious protocols, the Omicron variant with its unexpectedly high transmissibility rates is pushing the limits of health safety, travel and other infrastructures across the country. And so, today we're announcing: The Festival's in-person Utah elements will be moving online this year," organizers announced Wednesday.

The annual event, the largest independent film festival in the United States, is schedule to run form Thursday, Jan. 20 - Sunday, Jan. 30. Last year's festival took place entirely online due the pandemic.

"While it is a deep loss to not have the in-person experience in Utah, we do not believe it is safe nor feasible to gather thousands of artists, audiences, employees, volunteers, and partners from around the world, for an eleven-day festival while overwhelmed communities are already struggling to provide essential services," the festival added in its statement.

The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute, a non-profit organization that seeks to advance the work of independent storytellers in film and theatre. "Won't You Be My Neighbor," "Fruitville Station" and "Little Miss Sunshine" are just some of the films from recent years to have first gained exposure at the festival and gone on to widespread success.

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