Tabitha Jackson

Source: Stephen Speckman

Tabitha Jackson

The Sundance Film Festival has cancelled its planned Los Angeles area drive-in screenings during the upcoming 2021 event as Covid levels in LA County continue to surge.

Festival director Tabitha Jackson and her team and colleagues at Sundance Institute will assess on a case-by-case basis other satellite screenings scheduled to take place in arthouse cinemas around the United States, of which the LA area drive-ins were one component.

As previously announced, much of the festival will play out online.

The number of Covid-related deaths in LA County crossed 11,000 on Tuesday (January 5) as the effects of Christmas travel and gatherings hit home.

The county – the largest in the United States with a population of more than 10million – has averaged 13,500 new infections a day over the past week as the overall number of cases climbed to more than 841,000.

“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,” the festival said on Tuesday night.

“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.

“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 festival is set to take place from January 28-February 3.