This year’s Sundance will take a page out of the old playbook and focus on the films with an all virtual format

The Sundance Film Festival kicked off yesterday albeit a little differently (big surprise). The film festival has gone virtual and will showcase a mere 73 films, a significant reduction from the 118 last year, and will only last 7 days instead of the usual 10. (Not gonna lie, 10 days of movies doesn’t sound quite as exciting this year considering the majority of us have been staying somewhat sane in large part due to our streaming platforms.) In addition to the virtual viewings, 30 venues across the nation will be set up as “Satellite Screens” with localized events and screenings, all COVID safe of course.  

Sundance Film Festival

Of late, some (namely the festival founder, Robert Redford) feel the Sundance Film Festival has become more about the scene, the swag and the celebrity than bringing attention to the independent filmmakers, as was its original intention. In non-Corona years, throngs of people descended on Park City, Utah to see and be seen, but it’s possible the absence of pomp and circumstance will shift the focus of the festival back to the films instead of the gossip and star studded events. While some may prefer this less flashy version of Sundance, we’re pretty sure it will be back to normal next year in all its former glory.

The Lunar New Year is approaching but events are cancelled and travel is prohibited, what now?

You know what else kicked off yesterday? The Spring Festival travel season, the world’s largest human migration, in which billions of people travel to, from and across China to celebrate the Lunar New Year. February 12 will look very different (just like so many other things over the past year) with many people not allowed to make their annual trips home to see family and friends. The Lunar New Year is China’s biggest holiday with countless events, parades and other festivities that bring people together which will be impossible under the current circumstances.

Lunar New Year

Cities across China are attempting to come up with incentives for people to stay local including monetary rewards, additional cultural activities and the less rewarding, more sinister approach of prominently displayed banners “encouraging” people to stay in town. In normal years, many choose to take this celebration as an opportunity to go on holiday which is believed to have been one of the contributing factors to the rapid spread of the Coronavirus last year. As a result, neighboring countries have closed borders and leaving China will be a bit of a challenge. Strict quarantine requirements, including a 14-day quarantine in an assigned location and a further 7-day home quarantine, upon reentry into China are deterring a lot of people from taking international holidays.

This begs the question, will we see something similar to the annual Lunar New Year celebrations once this is all over? With so much of the world still affected and economies struggling, can we expect to see new festivals and traditions sprouting up to make up for the 2 years of missed joy and connection? The opportunities to shake things up and be creative will be endless and people will be grasping after any occasion to celebrate with family and friends.

Dear Mr. President,
Our industry is at your disposal.

Big names in the live entertainment industry, including Live Nation, AEG, the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) and several others have taken it upon themselves to offer their services to the new President of the United States. The aim is to use their expertise to aid in the vaccine distribution efforts. After a brief congratulations, the letter -- the full contents of which can be found here -- offers the industry’s support to help President Biden achieve his promise to vaccinate 100 million people in the first 100 days of his presidency. It goes on to explain why the industry is so well suited to undertake this initiative.

“Live events is one of the best prepared, best equipped, most experienced industries in America to manage and control large crowds in a rapid, organized fashion.”
COVID vaccine

This isn’t the first instance we’ve heard of the live industry stepping up and asking to help. Event professionals around the world have been eager to get back to work and are willing to do whatever it takes to help make that happen, including providing resources, venues and teams to help with COVID testing and now vaccinating. Pollstar references a recent meme that states: “If the live industry was tasked with vaccine distribution we would have had it done in a weekend, sold t-shirts and beer and a meet n greet with Fauci.” It’s funny because it’s true. Event professionals are highly trained and have perfected the skills necessary to conduct such a large scale operation and oh by the way, they’re not currently able to work. Let’s hope President Biden has the sense to take them up on their offer.