We are not at Sundance right now. However, we do have Anarchists who are covering the festival lineup. IFF Rotterdam started today and we won't be there either. But, we do have an Anarchist all raring to go and cover the heck out of it. We will not be going to SXSW in March either. But we will have Anarchists who have signed up to cover that festival too. What other festivals we will not be going to but still providing coverage for remains in flux.
This is not the new normal, this is only the current.
In the intro to the series I wrote that we at Screen Anarchy live and breathe by the schedule of the film festival circuit. It’s why we gave Ryland the flashy title Festivals Editor, with the promise that he keeps tabs on all of us as we galavant around the World, racing to review all the big genre titles before everyone else. Someone has to keep tabs on us and he's one of the more responsible of the bunch.
It's not just the chance to catch the big fantastic, genre titles of the year. For we Anarchists the film festivals are a time for a family reunion of sorts. Up until a couple years ago we’d rent a house in Austin for all the fam who wanted to go to Fantastic Fest. In our early years we were a small ragtag group going there but when you let out that you’re also having a tremendous amount of fun at a film festival suddenly everyone wants to go as well. Fantastic Fest was probably our first 'Fight Club' festival. We broke the first two rules about Fantastic Fest but what could we do? That much barbecue, beer and mayhem put our guards down. We let slip that an awesome time could be had in Texas.
Our second 'Fight Club' festival was Fantasia, what we affecionately call ‘summer camp for genre nerds’. For a while there the first rule of Fantasia was that you didn’t talk about the second weekend of Fantasia. It was, for a couple years, the best kept secret of the fest. See, until last year that was when Frontieres ran during the festival. When the Anarchists who thought they were getting the better deal going to Montreal during the first week of the festival stuck around for a couple extra days they noticed that everyone (Everyone? EV-RY-ONE!!! *in my best Gary Oldman impression circa The Professional*) was in town for the market. I had to carry a pointy stick with me for a while (Back. Back, I say!!!).
Those are probably the biggest two meeting places for us as a family. There are others that come to mind but you know what? For all the times that Ryland has come to Toronto to attend TIFF I’ve said hi maybe once? And it isn’t because I hate the guy and his wonderful life it’s just I "don’t do TIFF".
Festivals overall are just really cool places for us to see all of our friends that we have made along the way. Every festival has their core groups. We do like seeing everyone year after year. It's kind of nice. Zoom meetings do not make up for it. We miss each other. We've lost count how many hugs we need to give when the circuit gets back up and running.
When a lot of the festival circuit went virtual we were already in a sense prepared for it. We didn't like the fact that we weren't going on some grand adventure, hopping in a plane, train or automobile to go to some far out place for a week. But we were already accustomed to using digital libraries and requesting screener links from festivals in all the years we have been doing what we do.
And as festivals figured out going the virtual route it also opened up a lot more possibilities for us to increase our coverage. We had access to more festivals, thus more films. As we read in the first chapter about the festival circuit's response to the pandemic and as you will read below we soon found no shortage of festivals to provide coverage for.
So this is all a bit of a carthatic end to this series of articles about the impact of the pandemic on the festival circuit. Though we as a family are always in touch and did the Zoom thing during the worst times of Dumpster Fire 2020 nothing replaces catching up in person. We miss each other. Most of us anways.
So, to take the words of British songstress Vera Lynn out of their wartime context...
We'll Meet Again
Don't know where, don't know when
But I know We'll Meet Again
Some sunny day
Keep smiling through
Just like you always do
'Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away
Shelagh Rowan-Legg, James Marsh, Kwenton Bellette, J Hurtado, Eric Ortiz Garcia, Michele "Izzy" Galgana and Ryland Aldrich
contributed to this story.
What festivals were you able to attend or take part in this year?
Josh - Chattanooga Film Festival, Fantasia, Nightstream, TIFF, Fantastic Fest, and Neuchatel International Festival of Fantastic Film.
Ryland - Palm Springs Shortsfest - moderated a zoom panel
Telluride - one drive in screening in LA (Nomadland) really more of a sponsored screening than festival event
TIFF - online
Nightstream - online
AFI Fest - online
Kwenton - Melbourne International Film Festival (Online)
- Busan International Film Festival (Market Online Screenings)
- Japanese Film Festival (Online and free)
- Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) - Technical difficulties closed festival early
Izzy - Fantasia was the only festival that I covered as a reviewer, aside from some one-off news pieces. I attended several more film festivals as filmmaker, like Nightstream/Boston Underground, Chattanooga, Charlotte, Anomaly, DC Shorts, and Portland Horror.
James - In person? None, but virtually I attended Udine FEFF, NAFF Project Market at BiFan, Fantastic Fest, Busan, IFFAM (Macau)
Eric - Far East Film Festival, Fantasia, Fantastic Fest, Nightstream, Black Canvas FCC, Los Cabos and Mórbido.
Shelagh - Miami Film Festival, Chattanooga Film Festival, Palm Springs Short Film Festival, L'Etrange, TIFF, Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, and Cinemania.
Andrew - Fantasia, MotelX, Sitges, Nightstream, and Morbido. I also covered the Frontieres and Blood Window co-production markets.
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