The 33rd Virginia Film Festival will be held online due to “the evolving COVID-19 situation,” according to an announcement posted on their website and sent out via email Tuesday. The festival will still occur on its originally scheduled dates Oct. 21-25 but will shift to a virtual format for film screenings, panel discussions and Q&A sessions. The Virginia Film Festival is a program of the University of Virginia, with support from the Office of the Provost and Vice Provost for the Arts.
Jody Kielbasa, VAFF Director and the University’s Vice Provost for the Arts, noted the importance of safety in carrying out the festival this year.
“While we are obviously disappointed that we will not be able to share the Virginia Film Festival in person in October, we feel that the virtual platform is the best and most accessible option for us to move forward with, and most importantly, the best way for us to promote the health and safety of our community members,” Kielbasa said.
Programming for the festival is still in development but Kielbasa said the festival aims to include over 50 films from a variety of genres, styles and nations. The announcement also included suggestions of how an online format could provide an opportunity to expand the festival’s audience by “introducing more people to what we do and who we are.” Details concerning possible expansion were not included in the festival statement, but the shift to online would appear to increase accessibility and perhaps ticket availability compared to in-person events, which — even when held at larger venues on the Downtown Mall and on Grounds — tend to fill up quickly.
Although the festival will be virtual, opportunities for in-person gatherings hosted by VAFF are not entirely off the table.
“Serving the community that supports us so strongly is very important to us,” Kielbasa said. “We would like to find a way to safely present an experience this fall to complement our virtual program, such as a drive-in movie or socially-distanced outdoor screening. Such an event would allow us to come together to celebrate a shared love of film in a way that is fun and safe for all.”
Information about ticketing and access to online events, as well as a full schedule of programming, has yet to be announced. The slate of films, panels and events should be made available in early October. According to Kielbasa, tickets will still be available for free to full time University students.