What’s going on with this year’s film festivals?

by Nick Gonzales

Along with all the other myriad events disrupted by the COVID-19 epidemic, the rest of 2020 seems iffy for film festivals. While a lot of us miss going out to see new movies, I doubt many of us are in any hurry to pack into a crowded theater, even when they reopen.

Since March, more than 175 festivals have been canceled entirely, some have found other means of screening films for audiences, and yet others are still holding out hope that they’ll be able to occur, unchanged, later in the year.

The Tribeca Film Festival, which was supposed to run from April 15 through 26 in Manhattan, has teamed up with at least 20 other festivals, including Cannes and Sundance, to run “We Are One: A Global Film Festival” May 29 through June 7 on YouTube. The festival lineup hasn’t been announced … but it’s free, with no ads, so that’s a thing.

Closer to home, the Telluride Film Festival, which takes place over the Labor Day weekend, hasn’t made any official announcements regarding this year’s festival. It has, however, proposed extending its schedule an extra day to reduce crowding, a proposal that was unanimously approved by the town council, according to the Telluride Daily Planet.

The Venice International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, and New York Film Festival, all of which take place in September, have yet to determine whether they’ll hold actual in-person film festivals. People are understandably hesitant about heading to New York or northern Italy any time soon. Venice has ruled out having an online version of its festival, except possibly for members of the press, but the others have not.

In the meantime, other festivals, including the Durango Independent Film Festival are using online screenings as fundraisers. DIFF, along with 29 others, participated in the Film Festival Alliance’s Film Festival Day on April 11 showing indie film “Phoenix, Oregon.” The festival is participating in another one on May 23, showing “Life in Synchro.”

[video:1]The documentary, which premiered in early March, is about synchronized skating, which not only is a thing that exists but also sounds super tough and is almost entirely performed by women, judging by the trailer.

Tickets are $10, benefitting the local festival, and the film can be watched (purchasers receive a link) any time between May 22 and 31. There will also be a live virtual Q&A at 5 p.m. MT on May 23 with the film’s director, Angela Pinaglia, and several cast members, moderated by Susan Sullivan, co-founder of the Women Sports Film Festival.

Nick Gonzales

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