Sundance Film Festival returns amid Covid worries in US

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UTAH: Following the cancellation of last year’s in-person festival, the Sundance Film Festival has resumed normal operations for the first time since the pandemic began in 2020.

Although the majority of the films are available to watch online in the days following their premieres, the usual mix of film fans, industry professionals, and press descended on Park City in US’s Utah on January 19.

“Long time no see,” one delighted festival-goer told Variety, a US-based entertainment media house.

According to Variety, there appeared to be a desire for things to return to ‘normal’, for Sundance to resume where it had left off more than two years and two virtual iterations before.

However, as per Variety, Covid was still the talk of the town, as attendees talked about the recent increase in cases of the new Covid-19 subvariant, XBB.1.5.

Variety reports that in public areas, such as the festival headquarters at the Sheraton Park City, there appeared to be a 50-50 split of masked and unmasked attendees and volunteers.

“Are we wearing masks? I guess I’ll put mine on so I don’t look like an asshole,” quipped one confused attendee to a friend while waiting in line for a pass, as per Variety.

Meanwhile, some festival goers displayed truly one-of-a-kind COVID protection solutions, including three who were spotted wearing headgear resembling a mini-hazmat suit, creating uniquely dystopian moments.

‘The Pod Generation,’ a sci-fi drama starring Emilia Clarke and Chiwetel Ejiofor; the Daisy Ridley starrer ‘Sometimes I Think About Dying’; the Indigo Girls documentary ‘It’s Only Life After All’; the Eugenio Derbez vehicle ‘Radical’; and a pair of Midnight horror films, ‘Run Rabbit Run’ and ‘birth/rebirth,’ were among the biggest opening night titles.

On Thursday, Sundance announced that Doug Liman, the director of action epics such as ‘Mr and Mrs Smith,’ had made his first documentary, ‘Justice.’ The film will look into the sexual assault allegations that nearly derailed Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

According to Variety, the Sundance that has returned is not the same as the one that took place in 2020, just months before much of the world went into lockdown and the film industry came to a halt.

Some studio executives have decided against making the trip up the mountain, preferring to screen things from the comfort of their own homes. That has irritated sales agents, who believe that without the excitement of a packed premiere, their chances of sparking bidding wars are diminished.

A few celebrities have opted not to attend, fearful of contracting COVID and disrupting their filming schedules. (ANI)

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