Fantasia 2020: Famed Canadian Genre Festival Opts to Go Virtual Instead of Cancelling This Year's Festival

Editor, News; Toronto, Canada (@Mack_SAnarchy)
Fantasia 2020: Famed Canadian Genre Festival Opts to Go Virtual Instead of Cancelling This Year's Festival
We haven’t lost the Fantastia International Film Festival. Not completely. In these current times while many festivals are cancelling outright, rather than close the shutters on the year our friends at Fantasia have decided to hold the festival as a virtual event this year. 
In August Fantasia will happen in real time, by way of the online festival platform from Festival Scope and Shift/72. These will be ticketed events with the same number of ‘seats’ available as you would if you were seeing a flick in Hall C and we imagine a few more than usual for films that would play in the Seve. There will be intros from filmmakers and guests and we can still participate in Q&A sessions after each film. 
It’s not going to be the same, but it’s still going to ‘be’. 
Fantasia will announce the first wave of titles at the end of May.
Given the continuing uncertainty related to physical cinema spaces and large gatherings which will likely continue through the remainder of the calendar year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival has announced their decision to mount its highly-anticipated 2020 edition as a cutting edge virtual fest in August.
To deliver this, the acclaimed genre film event will be working with Festival Scope and Shift72 via their newly-launched online festival platform, most recently utilized for CPH:DOX and Visions du réel’s celebrated virtual editions. This platform offers studio-grade DRM and will be MPAA compliant, operating according to Motion Picture Association of America security standards.
A number of Fantasia 2020’s screenings will be presented with real-time access, offering heightened security to the digital programming with attention to recreating the energy and sense of shared experience that make festivals so vital and beloved. This unique opportunity allows Fantasia the opportunity to program top-tier genre films that may not have otherwise considered online launches or premieres.
“While we’re saddened not to be able to put on the larger-than-life physical event that we’d been planning for this year, we’re extremely excited to be working with Festival Scope and Shift72 on an unconventional virtual edition,” said Fantasia co-director Mitch Davis. “They’ve enthusiastically embraced every challenge we’ve thrown their way, particularly when it comes to making so many of our screenings be real-time, live events instead of the usual streaming approach. It’s going to make things so much more exciting and will go a long way towards keeping the intensity and engagement of the in-person experience vibrant in an online realm.”
Using the Festival Scope / Shift72 platform, Fantasia will bring much of the live event experience directly into peoples’ homes, offering filmmaker intros and audience-involved Q&A’s, live panels, and workshops. In addition, the festival’s flagship short film showcases, juried competitions, and audience awards will remain in place.
Says Festival Scope CEO and Co-Founder Alessandro Raja, "We’re thrilled to add Fantasia to our growing list of virtual festivals and we’re excited about their inventive new ideas for the platform. This year’s online edition will be engaging and exciting for attendees as the festival has planned premieres to replicate the physical event, adding a sense of exclusivity and familiarity.”
Fantasia’s virtual lineup will include an array of World and International feature film premieres, including anticipated titles from the cancelled SXSW and Tribeca editions, whose original selections will be given credit.
All film screenings will be geo-blocked to Canadian audiences and only accessible from within the country, vastly expanding the number of viewers Fantasia can engage with outside of Quebec.
Fantasia’s virtual edition will take place August 20 through September 2, 2020 while the Frontières Co-Production Market, which typically runs in conjunction with the festival, will take place from July 23rd through 26th. The first wave of Fantasia titles will be revealed in late May.
We are sad that there will be no event to go to, no travelling to Montreal to gather with hundreds of your closest friends and watch a movie together. But we have to anticipate that recovery from the pandemic will go beyond just having days where there are no more new cases and no more deaths. First, we have to be sure that when we get together again we’re all going to be safe. This is more than your usual post-festival how-much-did-I-drink how-much-sleep-didn’t-I-get I-need-to-take-better-care-of-myself-while-festing bug. 
The logistics of hosting a festival are screwy now. There is the uncertainty of international travel, as some regions have been through the worst of it here in the Americas we’re still having our turn at it. When will it be safe to travel anywhere, when will the borders open? Festivals are not the same if filmmakers cannot come and experience the unbridled enthusiasm of a Fantasia crowd. They’ll for sure miss that this year but we have to be safe first. 
Let's be clear. This is not the future. This is just the now. The longer those a-holes continue to be dinks about stay at home orders and ignoring science the longer it will take for the World to have victory over this pandemic and we can all return to a life as normal as can be. This is just 2020, the longest January ever. There will be other years and the festival will return to Hall C and the Seve. 
We also empathise with all of our friends who are used to going to Fantasia to participate and cover the festival who will not be able to this year because of travel restrictions. On our end it also presents a challenge because of the geo-blocking to only Canadian audiences. This is a necessary evil because everyone wants these films to have as much access to the circuit as is possible in these times. If Fantasia shows a movie and it is broadcast everywhere else then other festivals will miss out on their chance to screen it as well. This means you're only going to get coverage from Anarchists here in Canada this year and in advance I apologize that this includes me. 
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