Virtual Comradeship

By Grace Bonner, Cinema and Photography '23, February 23, 2021
Looking Towards a 100% Virtual Festival

Virtual Comradeship

Emotions around me disappear and faces clad in fabric fill their place. 

A repetitive cycle runs my schedule stagnant. I’m isolated, struggling to interact with those around me while staying safe.

Thankfully, technology amplifies the number of people one can reach at any given time. The internet adds to our social sphere but comes with a new kind of exhaustion.

Virtual festivals don’t limit our screen time. To make up for this, they allow for freedom in creating one’s schedule.  

Festivals are about diversity, as Cindy Hing-Yuk Wong articulates in Film Festivals: Culture, People, and Power on the Global Screen. Diversity in both the creator and the subject matter. Celebration of all becomes increasingly clear as we see festivals begin to move into a virtual environment.

A counter-world takes the place of my dull daily routine. A new space for conversations overlooked until face-to-face with them. 

While many festivals are moving towards a virtual platform, some are not. Hoping for a return to normalcy, they’re waiting to share their art.

Postponing from May to July, Cannes hopes for an in-person future. Even when maskless faces are no longer anxiety-inducing, online festivals may continue to grow in popularity. 

Using a hybrid model, the Berlin Film Festival will take place in two parts. A virtual industry-only event in March will be followed by outdoor screenings for the public in the summer. 

Embracing an online platform pulls one towards a new normal. Staring at a screen occasionally heightens the feeling of isolation, but small squares of smiling faces give me hope.

A combination of conversation and viewing will give us a break from our daily routine - even when discussing serious topics some films may cover. 

Art and creativity will not vanish isolation. But, festivals are about change. A virtual world can bring us towards a comradeship of like-minded individuals.