Virtual Film Festivals


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Virtual Film Festivals

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After years of working on a new short film about the Seattle's iconic Space Needle, it was scheduled to screen at a number of film festivals. But then came the CoVid19, quarantine, closures of movie theaters, etc. Several film festivals either cancelled their festivals entirely, or transitioned to virtual film festivals online.

Normally, film festival premieres come with lots of face-to-face parties and networking - hanging with other filmmakers and celebrating the excitement of taking our work out into the world. It's a time to 'stand in the spotlight' and connect with live audiences. But instead, a new type of festival experience is happening, and for me, it hasn't been bad, just very different.

The Cascadia International Women's Film Festival screened my "Space Needle: A Hidden History" in May. Located in Bellingham, Wash., the festival organized a live conversation with an art critic, one of the participants in the film, and me. We talked for about 40 minutes - longer than the typical Q & A at a traditional festival. I answered questions from the comfort of my living room and toasted the event online with a beer. I felt honored by the thoughtful questions of a journalist and a brilliant dancer in the film, and the fact that we didn't have to squeeze in to a 10 min. window. The interview streamed on Facebook. Viewers tuned in from all over the country and the world. (Hopefully, they'll start referring to the Needle as a 'she' since the shape was inspired by a sculpture called, 'The Feminine One.') I later learned the organizers had as many, if not more, viewers as in previous years.

For another festival, By Design at the Northwest Film Forum in Seattle, I videotaped an introduction to the film that screened before a real-time stream. That was convenient though I felt a bit stilted talking to the camera on my computer.

As a film festival attendee, I liked that I was able to watch films online during a window of time, instead of having to make painful decisions about which films to see when several were scheduled at the same time, and if lucky, I could watch on my own time during a designated window. No hassle standing in lines to get tickets, waiting to be admitted and scrambling for seats. No sticky floors and spilled popcorn, coughing or snoring audiences.

I'm glad I didn't have to fly anywhere or drive long distances, though I miss being with fellow filmmakers and the in-person synergy that happens when a bunch of us get together in the same space.

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This item was submitted on June 11, 2020 by BJ Bullert using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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