Sundance Will Return In-Person in 2023 With Later Digital Component, Unveils COVID Safety Measures

Sundance Park City Atmosphere
Courtesy of Sundance Institute

After two years of exclusively virtual screenings, the Sundance Film Festival says it will be back in-person in 2023.

The celebration of the best of indie filmmaking, which unfolds from Jan. 19-Jan. 29, isn’t abandoning its digital component. It will maintain a hybrid presence, allowing film fans who are unable to make the trek up the mountain to Park City, Utah, to participate in the event. But remote cinephiles won’t get to access to the newest arthouse films until the later in the festival.

Beginning on Tuesday, Jan. 24, the festival will allow ticket-buyers to view select films online. The digital offering will consist of an on-demand, curated selection of the year’s feature films, including all competition titles (U.S. Dramatic, U.S. Documentary, World Cinema Dramatic, World Cinema Documentary, and Next), as well as other episodic work and short films. In the past, films would only be made available after their premiere. The 2023 festival will conclude with weekend screenings of the films that nab top prizes at Sundance. Those will screen on Jan. 28–Jan. 29, both in person and online. 

“We are excited to bring the Sundance community together for the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, a celebration of independent filmmaking. After two years of being apart, our priority is reuniting in person, while still sharing bold new films with audiences across the country through online access,” said Joana Vicente, CEO of the Sundance Institute. “We’ve designed this year’s Festival based on our learnings from previous years — embracing the traditions that have been meaningful in the past, while also looking toward accessibility for audiences and expanding the platform we provide our storytellers.”

Sundance attempted to come back in-person in 2022, but the omicron variant and the sharp spike in COVID-19 cases that it caused, forced the festival to cancel those plans at the last minute.

As part of the Tuesday announcement, Sundance also revealed its safety protocols, aimed at cutting down on transmission of a virus that has spread widely at nearly every major film industry function. All Sundance staff and volunteers working at the festival will be required to wear masks and test weekly. Attendees will be requested, but not required, to wear masks in all Sundance Film Festival spaces. Sundance will also encourage all attendees to test before attending and during the festival and to be up to date on all COVID-19 vaccinations. But it will not require proof of vaccinations. Most major festivals, such as those at Toronto and Cannes, have dramatically loosened restrictions as COVID enters its third year.