With the announcement that the 55th edition of the Karlovy Vary Film Festival will be unable to proceed in the traditional manner this year, it becomes yet another casualty in the fallout from the coronavirus that started with the March cancellation of SXSW in the US, the Cannes Film Fest in France, and the virus is expected to cause more cancellations and the rescheduling of more festivals worldwide.
KVIFF President Jiří Bartoška released a video announcing the changes for 2020, saying, “We strongly believe that seeing a movie with other people in a theater is a powerful and irreplaceable experience, and because the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is one of the most important cultural events in the Czech Republic, we have decided that holding an alternative version would go against the festival’s main mission: to bring together audiences, filmmakers, and people from different walks of life in order to collectively enjoy works of cinema.”
Based purely on that statement you might believe that there would be no way to see any of the films that were programmed for 2020, but that isn’t actually the case. As with other film festivals, the principals at the KVIFF have already set a date for the festival next year (July 2-10, 2021) but have also sought ways to present some of their 2020 program in cinemas.
While movie theaters globally have remained shuttered during the pandemic, the Czech Republic has already begun it’s slow re-opening and movie theaters are expected to be a part of that re-opening in early June (specifically, June 8th).
If the plan holds, the KVIFF will host a social version of the festival in venues which will adhere to the government mandate of screenings for no more than 50 audience members. This program is being called the KVIFF at Your Cinema event and will run from July 3rd through the 11th. In addition to this, the festival will hold industry-only screenings of competition films in a program called KVIFF Eastern Promises from July 6-8th of this year.
Finally, the principals at the KVIFF have decided to offer an online component of the fest through the We Are One Global Film Festival which you can find more information about in the video below:
SXSW offered a similar option (screening via Amazon Prime – without requiring a Prime subscription), but only a small number of filmmakers opted to continue for fear of online piracy, and since many films that play festivals have yet to pick up a distributor, the idea of your film being widely disseminated via hackers online struck fear into many a producer and director.
What are your thoughts on the change? Will you miss attending Karlovy Vary this year? Would you be willing to venture out to a smaller screening at your local cinema in June or July? Let us know in the comments.