Park City Will Remain the Home of the Sundance Film Festival, Says Managing Director

Feb 17, 2021

The backgrounds for the Sundance Film Festival's web conferences during the all-digital 2021 edition of the event prominently featured Park City, which went without the physical festival for the first time in two decades.
Credit Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Park City’s contract with the Sundance Institute enabling the annual Sundance Film Festival runs through 2026. Sundance’s Managing Director Betsy Wallace says that although planning for future in-person festivals have some uncertainties, thanks to COVID-19, the organization is staying in Park City.


Sundance’s modified contract with the city in 2013 provided, among other things, that the event’s schedule would shift so it didn’t conflict with Martin Luther King Day, which is an important period for Park City’s ski hospitality industry.


It also provided that if Sundance wanted to change, or give notice of termination, it must do so in 2021.


Wallace said they haven’t talked about doing that. She said their home is Park City, although after this year’s virtual event, it’s likely that the Festival will exist partially online in the future.


“We want to come back to Park City, and we want to have the ability to go to a theater in person, and we also want the ability to stay at home and watch something in the coziness of our house,” she said. “So we’re really thinking about and pondering the concept of doing a hybrid this next year. And the concept would be, back in Park City, back in Utah, where our normal footprint is, because this is our home, and we always want the festival to be here.”


The contract also provides that 70% of the festival events must take place in Park City or the Snyderville Basin. The managing director says that the financial hit from 2020 could result in fewer events next time around.


“I think this next year is going to be a smaller footprint, because I don’t think we can come back in financially the way we did before,” Wallace said. “Most of the festival is paid upfront, to an extent, not all of it clearly. But we’re not financially able to do that this year. Plus, with Covid still being out there as somewhat of an iffy thing, we wanna be mindful of not locking in too much this next festival, just in case it comes against us. So we’re working very mindfully, but we’ve just started that process.”