Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many of this year’s most popular global events have either been postponed or straight-up cancelled. As of June 10, there are more than seven million confirmed cases of coronavirus cases worldwide, along with more than 400,000 deaths. Every country, as well as different institutions from around the world, has been taking measures to slow down the outbreak. Public spaces such as movie theatres, parks, restaurants and pubs have been shut for months now, to “flatten the curve” of the pandemic. It’s the very reason why even many international film and music festivals have been cancelled. But that doesn’t mean socially isolated movie lovers will miss out on the latest and greatest in cinema. There are many film festivals that have opted to change with the times and have turned in to a more user-friendly virtual space. These virtual film festivals are offering diverse programs, championing independent cinema and powerful documentaries—and you can access them all from the comfort of your own home.
Check Out 2020’s Virtual Film Festivals:
1SXSW Film Festival
Amazon Prime has partnered with South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival to launch “Prime Video presents the SXSW 2020 Film Festival Collection”. This streamed version of the iconic festival will provide filmmakers in the 2020 SXSW Film Festival lineup an opportunity to take part in this online film festival, via an invitation. Playing exclusively on Prime Video in the US for 10 days, this one-time event will be available in front of the Prime Video paywall. It will be free for all US audiences, with or without an Amazon Prime membership. All they need is a free Amazon account.
2Oxford Film Festival
Mississippi’s Oxford Film Festival has teamed up with Film Movement and created its own streaming platform. The proceeds of the virtual festival will be split between the non-profit film festival and the filmmaker. It has also released a new lineup of films online that will be screened during the originally scheduled dates of March 8 through the 10th. It also intends to reschedule for later this year probably between the 2nd to the 4th of October. The Oxford Film Festival will confirm this in the coming weeks.
3Hot Docs Film Festival
The festival has struck a deal with the streaming platform CBC to broadcast a modest selection of the festival’s premieres. The documentary film festival has announced a streaming plan on May 5 that will bring more than half of the 226 documentary features and shorts to audiences. It will bring you over 140 official 2020 selections as part of Hot Docs Festival Online, that started on May 28. While the festival officially ran till June 6, many films will remain available for extended post-festival viewing until June 24. Get your free tickets here and watch.
4Toronto Jewish Film Festival
Going digital, the Toronto Jewish Film Festival has announced that it will make a handful of 35 features and documentaries available to stream in the GTA from May 30 to June 7. Each film will be available for 24 hours, with live Zoom Q&As for selected titles the following afternoon. The festival is still planning to hold a physical festival from October 22 to November 1. So, if you have missed out on the first half of the festival, don’t be disheartened. The second half of this will continue this autumn in theatres through Toronto the city. For more details, visit tjff.com
The Montreal-based genre-movie banquet announced plans for an online program in August. Aided by Festival Scope and Shift72 ‘s newly-launched online festival platform, the festival will offer many of its films via virtual release, pairing them with filmmaker intros and audience-involved Q&As, live panels, and workshops.
6Human Rights Watch Film Festival
New York City’s 31st edition of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival is going completely digital and accessible from home. Starting from June 11 to 20, the festival will present a digital edition featuring 11 inspiring and informative films that will be available nationwide. Explore the lineup and get tickets here.
7Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival
Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFFF), which would have opened on April 7, has cancelled the 38th edition of the festival. But along with that, the European festival has also made its program available online.
8Environmental Film Festival
Washington DC’s Environmental Film Festival (DCEFF) has offered close to 50 per cent of this year’s festival selections on its online platform. Since the end of March, the festival has stopped offering some of these films, but most remain available even today — they’ve even added more! All the films, along with hundreds of other past festival selections, can also be found on their page: Watch Now: DCEFF Online.
9Hip Hop Film Festival
Now in its fifth year, Harlem Film House’s Hip Hop Film Festival goes digital August 6 to 9, taking place live on 24/7 Films TV. Featuring over 200 independent filmmakers from around the world, the festival offers premiere film screenings, virtual DJ battles, master classes known as Master Cyphers, and more. This year’s event focuses on “stories that matter,” presenting stories from the culture across genres including women-led stories, Black stories, social horror stories, and more. The Hip Hop Film Festival’s mission is to create economic sustainability and provide a platform for filmmakers from the global culture of hip hop. Tickets and more information are available at hiphopfilmfestival.org.
Be A Part Of All These Virtual Film Festivals In 2020
While there won’t be any actual film festivals or screenings to physically attend as we continue practising social distancing, a lot of them have now turned into virtual film festivals. Let’s not be put out by the change of plans, and instead enjoy couch-side versions while we can (and have to). Take a look at the mentioned film festivals and let us know how your at-home popcorn experience at these virtual festivals fare! After all, the show must go on!