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VIFF likely to move online for 39th edition of film festival due to coronavirus pandemic

Last Updated Jun 3, 2020 at 5:31 am PDT

The Vancouver International Film Centre. (Courtesy Facebook/VIFFest)

VIFF will likely go virtual for its 39th edition this September

Film festival organizers are determined to hold the event, even if it looks a little different this year

COVID-19 has forced a number of international film festivals to adopt a virtual format this year

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) will likely go virtual for the 39th edition of its annual event this September due to COVID-19.

Although the festival will be dramatically different than past years due to ongoing restrictions on large gatherings of people, the organization remains determined to hold the event.

“Our whole intention is to put on something that we’re very, very proud of and use every opportunity and every resource that we can leverage to celebrate filmmakers,” says Kyle Fostner, VIFF’s Interim Executive Director.

If it moves online, the annual celebration of filmmakers would join a long list of international film festivals that have moved to streaming formats this year.

The historic We Are One: A Global Film Festival features a collaboration of more than 20 international film festivals and is currently streaming on YouTube as a united response to the cancellation of many traditional in-person festivals.

The Brooklyn Film Festival is also streaming its 149 films to viewers until June 7, while the Hot Docs Festival will continue to offer documentaries online to Ontario audiences until Saturday.

Fostner adds how other organizers roll out online film festivals between now and September may affect what enthusiasts can expect from VIFF.

“There are still a few major festivals to be passed between now and then,” says Fostner. “These festivals can change the conversation, in that respect.”

VIFF isn’t the only international film festival scheduled for this fall. The Venice International Film Festival is also set for September, while the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is still hoping to offer some type of physical event to combine with an online festival.

Vancity Theatre, VIFF’s main venue, had to shut its doors on March 16, but the organization has been offering online content to its audiences ever since.

“Staff attention turned really quickly—I think remarkably quickly—to getting films onto our website in the streaming function,” says Fostner. “Getting content out there to remind people that we’re still here.

“People need something to grab on to right now.”

While Fostner is committed to putting on the film festival this September, VIFF is still working on details and keeping an eye on evolving health and safety guidelines.

“We’re still finalizing our plans and we plan to make a public statement in a few weeks.”