There’s plenty of moving pieces in the entertainment industry currently. Movie productions are shut down. Theaters are shut down. Yet movies made before all this and were set to be released, still exist. While there’s plenty of films being put out on VOD, there’s still ones left in limbo. Most of them are films that were slated to premiere at Film Festivals. Largely in hopes of finding distribution deals. Now, one festival is trying to find the best way to make sure that filmmakers and film lovers aren’t. In a not completely surprising move, Montreal’s Fantasia Festival (one of the largest genre festivals on the planet) is going to be online only.
To some of you, Fantasia might sound new. Part of that due to it being in Canada and the time of year it traditionally unfolds, in July. The Toronto Film Festival is the one that makes the news. There’s a genre component to it, that comes in the form of their midnight madness series. Comparatively, all of Fantasia is an extended midnight madness. It lasts for multiple weeks, has a ton of movies, has a film market, you name it. So, their decision to take this all and slap it onto the internet, is something small. It’s a formula that, should it prove successful, will be adopted by others.
There’s just one small (or massive) catch to all this: it’s for Canadians only. The festival’s screenings online will be geo-blocked. Only those individuals with a valid Canadian IP address will be permitted to buy tickets. It’s a gamble that might strike some as odd or bad. The element that missing is how this protects the movie’s themselves. Fantasia is partnering with Festival Scope and Shift72, to bring the films to their online platform. They’ll couple with it DRM that will be MPAA compliant. You can find more covered in the statement released by Fantasia co-director Mitch Davis:
“While we’re saddened not to be able to put on the larger-than-life physical event that we’d been planning for this year, we’re extremely excited to be working with Festival Scope and Shift72 on an unconventional virtual edition. They’ve enthusiastically embraced every challenge we’ve thrown their way, particularly when it comes to making so many of our screenings be real-time, live events instead of the usual streaming approach. It’s going to make things so much more exciting and will go a long way towards keeping the intensity and engagement of the in-person experience vibrant in an online realm.”
That decision is a move of commitment to both security and those who wish their products still get the festival treatment. Going this route, as opposed to the recent SXSW and Amazon Prime decisions (which didn’t cover all movies from the fest), is a potential boon, in theory. What it does is allow distributors the opportunity to give features a chance to be released on VOD, without a large audience having essentially seen it for free. It’s a situation where you take the good, you take the bad and you hope, in the future, everyone gets to attend in person.
For those who live in Canada or have family in Canada, there’s a lot to be excited about. In addition to the movie screenings, there will be intros from directors and talent, live Q&A’s(with participation from viewers) and more. Fantasia Fest will run from August 20 – September 2, 2020. Though no titles have been revealed yet, the plan is for an announcement to be made, in the next couple of weeks. When the programming waves do hit, we’ll run them. It’s always good to have a running list of those movies we want so desperately to watch. Anticipation is a typical aspect of the theater going or movie watching experience. Typical is what everyone could use right now.