The Sundance Virtual Film Festival begins Thursday (January 20). Since there will be no in-person screenings, some ticket buyers want refunds of their $750 packages or full credits for a future in-person event.
Festival director Tabitha Jackson said this year’s decision to cancel in-person events was different from planning for last year’s festival. The festival hasn’t had the same last-minute expenses or cancellations in 2021.
“You know last year we made the decision not to do it in person because of the delta – because none of us were vaccinated at the time. And we did it in June I think We made the decision to focus on building an online platform All of the costs involved in hosting an in-person festival were overdue by the time the data came in, and this transferable variant mad appeared.
Sundance is a nonprofit, and Jackson said it has obligations to artists and the industry. She said that this year organizers were careful to note that ticket packages were non-refundable. After the cancellation, Sundance offered a $200 credit to apply to next year’s festival.
“So what we have been very careful to do in our ticketing product offerings is to note very clearly that these products are non-refundable. We nevertheless wanted to recognize the trust and good faith that people have in Sundance.”
Parkite Bob Knox has been a dedicated Sundance attendee since 2008. He, his wife, and another out-of-town couple purchase ticket packages each year. He said the non-refundable clause did not state that it included the cancellation of in-person events.
Knox’s group bought a Salt Lake and three ticket packages for $2,600 and picked out all the movies they wanted to see. Knox said that with the changes, they lost all of their films and had to use the online virtual selection process, which he called unreliable.
“Once we communicated with Sundance, we sort of looked at the rules that kept changing. We said forget it. We don’t because it’s too confusing and uncertain. If you read social media, you’ll find people who actually bought the packages online and then found out they were canceled and had to start all over again.”
Knox said he was not asking for a refund and would be willing to pay an administrative fee to help defray the cost of reissuing tickets in the future. But he is unhappy with the manipulation of the switch and tells his credit card company about it.
“We don’t know what American Express is going to do, but we know a lot of other people have the same problem. American Express tries to resolve disputes like this. I guess they must have lots and lots of their customers who are what we said is that if you give us tickets for next year, if you just give us credits to buy tickets next year, everything would be fine.
Sundance’s Jackson said the nonprofit had financial obligations throughout the year that prevented it from reimbursing the full costs of the package.
“All of those tickets were flexible enough for you to go online and the festival to continue to see the films and meet the artists so to speak through our platforms. But yeah, that’s a position that none of us want. being in it, and we’re making the most of it. And we’ve actually been encouraged by the response from most people who understand the position we’re in, and we’re in a global health crisis.
The $750.00 package included ten tickets. Tickets for the Virtual Sundance Festival are $25.00 per film.