Austin Film Festival Goes Virtual
Shows goes on as hybrid IRL/online conference drops in-person part
By Richard Whittaker,
3:30PM, Tue. Jul. 28, 2020
Austin Film Festival, the annual celebration of cinema and script, has become the latest local gathering to go virtual, with the announcement today that this year's gathering (scheduled for Oct. 22-29) will be online.
Only two weeks ago, AFF announced that the festival and writer-centric conference would go ahead with both in-person and online components, and had started selling badges. However, today they shifted direction, and have gone online only.
AFF is the latest festival to have to change plans for 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic. SXSW was the first to cancel, becoming the canary in the coal mine for the industry this year. So far in Austin, Indie Meme and Cine Las Americas have both had successful online outings, while Austin Asian American Film Festival ran a weekend of shorts, with the features to be screened or streamed (depending on the situation) in November. Most streaming festivals have run cut-down rosters, but the upcoming All Genders, Lifestyles, and Identities Film Festival (aGLIFF) has announced a packed lineup. So far, only one film festival, Fantastic Fest, has announced it will cancel completely for this year.
However, AFF has confirmed that it will be going ahead with both components of the regular festival in this online iteration:
• As a gathering place for writers and filmmakers, the opening weekend conference is a vital part of the festival, and so the organizers have announced that not only will there be a Virtual Writers Conference, but it will run a full five days (Oct. 22-26). Lindsay Doran (producer, Sense and Sensibility), Scott Frank (writer, Get Shorty), Kevin Willmott (co-writer, Da 5 Bloods), and Tracey Scott Wilson (writer, Respect) have all already been confirmed as speakers and panelists, and the conference will feature mainstays like the pitch competition and roundtable sessions.
• On the film festival side, the fest will run eight days (Oct. 22-29). The bookers promise a full slate, with over 30 features (including marquee premieres) and 35 shorts.
Virtual badges for the festival and conference are available for $175 (and you can add on pitch competition and virtual roundtable tickets for $25 each), or a film pass, including access to all films and filmmaker Q&As, for the bargain price of $30. You can buy passes now at www.austinfilmfestival.com.
The organizers promise more panelists and speakers will be announced, plus there are of course those films still incoming, so keep checking back.