Film festival goes virtual amid coronavirus outbreak

By Lucinda Cameron, PA Scotland

A film festival postponed due to the coronavirus is going virtual and moving part of its programme online to ensure that audiences do not miss out.

The Glasgow Short Film Festival (GSFF) was due to take place from March 18-22 but has now been rescheduled for August 19–23.

Meanwhile the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF), which was due to take place in June, has been postponed, while the Filmhouse in Edinburgh and Belmont Filmhouse in Aberdeen are closing from Wednesday until further notice.

GSFF organisers have announced that ten films from the programme will be shown virtually, with two films per day making their online premiere from Wednesday onwards.

Each film will be free to view for one day only on the festival website glasgowshort.org although organisers would welcome any donations.

Festival chiefs are also working hard to ensure as much as possible of the original programme will be rescheduled, and will make more announcements in the coming months.

GSFF director Matt Lloyd said: “We’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who supported us in our decision to postpone the festival.

“Guests, partners, suppliers and audiences have been overwhelmingly generous and understanding, easing the pain of what has been a difficult few days, for us and many other organisations and individuals experiencing the same challenge.

“Please stay safe during this extraordinary period, and take care of one another.”

The first two films to go online are How The Earth Must See Itself (A Thirling), by Lucy Cash and Simone Kenyon, produced by National Theatre of Scotland and Scottish Sculpture Workshop.

Inspired by Nan Shepherd’s “lyrical landmark of nature writing” The Living Mountain, it is described as a poetic work set in the Scottish Cairngorms, accompanied by a soundtrack by Hanna Tuulikki.

The other film available is Maneater, created by Sandra Isacsson and Caroline Wallen, which is described as a “funny and delightfully perverse commentary on the male gaze”.

Two new films (usually one Scottish and one international) will be available on the website at 8am each morning until Sunday March 22.

Each film will be a surprise until it goes live – however the Scottish film will always have captions for D/deaf and hard of hearing viewers.

The EIFF said it is looking at which elements of the festival can be delivered later in the year.

Ken Hay, chief executive of Filmhouse in Edinburgh, Belmont Filmhouse Aberdeen and EIFF, said: “It is with huge regret that we have taken the necessary decision to both close the Filmhouse in Edinburgh and the Belmont Filmhouse in Aberdeen for the foreseeable future, as well as postpone Edinburgh International Film Festival 2020.

“Both Filmhouse and Belmont Filmhouse provide unique windows on the world for their local communities, however the health and wellbeing of our staff, filmmaker guests and audiences has to be the first consideration.

“As the longest running film festival in the world, we are keen to continue even through these hard times, and we are looking at which elements of it may be delivered later in the year. We will keep you informed as plans develop.

“For now, we would like to thank our funders, sponsors, partners, staff, donors, patrons, filmmakers, sales agents, distributors, members and audiences for their loyalty, support and understanding in these unprecedented times.”

Cinema bosses said that tickets purchased online for future screenings will be automatically refunded while for those purchased at the Box Office, refunds will be available to customers when they re-open.