Filmmakers, distributors, and cinephiles have been stunned and saddened at the wave of film festival cancellations — from South by Southwest to CPH:Dox to dozens of others — due to the global spread of the coronavirus. Other upcoming industry fests like Hot Docs, the Toronto International Film Festival, and Tribeca are all closely monitoring the situation. The cancellation of these events means that many important films — including many in WMM’s Production Assistance and Distribution programs — are losing key opportunities to get in front of agents and audiences. The staff at Women Make Movies is discussing what we can do to provide alternatives.
To that end, prior to the wave of cancellations, Women Make Movies had launched a virtual film festival to celebrate #WomensHistoryMonth and to shine a spotlight on new releases in our transnational feminist collection. The festival, only in its second week, has thus far attracted more than 600 people from 36 countries (including Ghana, Egypt, Nicaragua, Kazahkstan, Japan, and Sri Lanka) attending the virtual film festival. In a time when people all over the world are using social isolation to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the fest is allowing people to virtually share in a common experience.
The virtual film festival received a mention in an article published in The Globe and Mail on March 11, 2020. Journalist Victoria Ahearn wrote, “[Toronto actor and producer Max Topplin] noted ‘it’s a new time for everybody’ and it isn’t clear what the model for a virtual festival would look like. But the New York-based non-profit organization Women Make Movies is currently hosting a Women’s History Month Virtual Film Festival throughout the month. Festival attendees sign up to receive access to select films, with new titles added each week.”
In addition to wanting to meet the needs of filmmakers, WMM is striving to meet the rapidly changing needs of our other major constituents — colleges and universities, who are moving spring semester courses online. In the coming days and weeks, Women Make Movies will be exploring how the virtual film festival model can be expanded to meet the needs of filmmakers and schools. If you have questions or thoughts, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.