Film Festivals, Moving Online & What’s Next

“It’s frustrating although not entirely unexpected to have to move our event around; our physical events over the past year and a half have been blessed with a lot of luck around lockdown timing, so we were due for a postponement.”

Static Vision co-founder Felix Hubble and crew have had to postpone for the second time in two weeks their weekend-long ‘Dreamscapes’ instalments of features, shorts, talks and experimental filmmaking to now commence come September 3 in light of Victoria’s stay at home orders stemming from a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Many Film Festivals, local community organisers, volunteers, dedicated patrons and stakeholders have been directly affected as but one of many aspects of their lives facing uncertainty. With stay at home orders extended to parts of regional NSW including Orange for one week commencing today, a planned three day Travelling Film Festival run in the town scheduled for Friday will be impacted. A planned Jewish International Film Festival advance Shiva Baby screening originally set for tonight will too be affected in light of stay at home orders for Greater Sydney currently in place until at least midnight on July 30.

Given Victoria’s lockdown extension until at least midnight on July 27, the Castlemaine Documentary Film Festival, set for this weekend, alike Static Vision will head “back into the clouds” according to the Festival organisers; taking its planned July 24-25 events online (excluding ‘My Name is Gulpilil’ and live events) with ticketholders having 48 hours to view sessions.

“Unfortunately for organisations hosting events the size of ours (less than 1,000 people in the screening space at once and therefore not requiring special permits from the Council), there’s no financial support when anything beyond our control comes into play,” said Felix. “We’ll take the financial hit, though we’re slightly better insulated than a lot of similar organisations, due to our structure and regular focus on online events.”

With Dreamscapes originally set to comprise of several July screenings including one session in conjunction with Fantastic Film Festival Australia at Melbourne’s Lido Cinemas, Static Vision will push ahead Friday night via a livestream in conjunction with Trash Night and Sydney Static Vision stalwart Pink Flamingo cinema.

“We’ve embraced online stop-gaps whenever restrictions come into play and we enjoy experimenting in the digital space, however there are no replacements for the energy, vibe and aura of in-person events and watching films communally in cinema spaces,” said Felix. It’s a very special cultural practice and something we should all be doing everything in our control to keep alive.”

The Taiwan Film Festival, having scheduled the Festival’s first ‘Bookshelves’ event for July 17, took the session online.

“It wasn’t difficult to move the event online as we have been through a similar situation last year and learnt how to adapt to it,” said Festival Founder Benson Wu. “The result was good; we got a lot of feedback from the audiences that watched it from places across Australia like Melbourne, Perth, regional NSW and even from other countries.” 

A follow up Bookshelves instalment, focused on Taiwan and Asia queer literature, is set for October 26 and if necessary the team are ready to run online.

“For the upcoming Taiwanese Bookshelves event we have to wait and see if we can finally run it face to face,” said Benson. “I think we have learned that if there is an outbreak a month before the event we better just face the fact and prepare to run it online rather than keep waiting for a miracle.” 

“It was truly disappointing that we couldn’t run the event at the State Library of NSW – we miss interacting with the audience and hearing people laugh or shout in the auditorium. We also love chatting with the audiences after the event to continue the discussion or build a friendship; those are some things you can never get from doing it online.” 

The Geelong Biennale will continue its July 1-31 run online with a selection of narrative, documentary, animation, experimental films and music clips. The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival, too continuing a July 1-31 online run including free masterclasses this Saturday through Sunday, will have its planned in-person run, set to commence today, greatly impacted. One planned in-person session, ‘Batoor,’ is now on track to screen August 1 with more to be confirmed shortly.

The St Kilda Film Festival, currently on the Victorian tour, have cancelled a July 24 screening in Numurkah while postponing an upcoming event in Mirboo. Postponing a July 27 screening in Cobram which had originally been scheduled for July 20, an appearance in Queenscliff come July 31 is still scheduled with events slated for August through September.

The Scandinavian Film Festival, having commenced runs in early July in both Sydney and Melbourne, have rescheduled to August 19 through September 8 and August 20 through September 8 respectively, with a one week lockdown introduced in South Australia on July 20 set to impact the Festival’s Adelaide run which commenced July 13.

Sydney’s open mic film night Kino Sydney, wrapping on their most recent Alexandria screening shortly before restrictions were first introduced in June, have cancelled the upcoming August 3 screening and forgone a livestream, with Melbourne equivalent Filmonik, also a dual in person/online stalwart, set to go ahead July 28.

The Armenian Film Festival Australia’s planned August and September runs in Melbourne and September respectively have been postponed with new 2021 dates to be announced, while the Scifi Film Festival, originally set for September 23-26, has been postponed to October 14-17.

The Melbourne International Film Festival, confirming record audiences as part of MIFF’s 2020 online edition, have announced their impending program including several highly anticipated Cannes premieres. Set to screen in cinemas from August 5-15 and then online throughout Australia from August 14-22, MIFF 69 will feature 62 entries in its 283-strong line-up online via MIFF Play.

Static Vision, which has too made the move into distribution, will premiere ‘El Planeta’ and ‘What Do We See When We Look At The Sky?’ at Melbourne screenings commencing August 7.

The Sydney Film Festival, set for August 18-29, having recently confirmed the delay of the program announcement originally scheduled for this morning have not made any further announcements regarding the Festival’s in-person status.

Traditionally taking place in June almost immediately following Cannes which itself was delayed to conclude only this week, SFF ran a brief one-off series of summer sessions featuring local premieres at Sydney’s State Theatre this January past. In anticipation of the 2021 Festival SBS too recently ran a series of historical SFF selections concluding July 17.

Festival Director Nashen Moodley indicated in 2020 that the Festival did not “have plans for an online component in future years” and looked forward to seeing audiences “for a fully immersive and connected Sydney Film Festival.”

on Festevez