Red Carpet or Not, Film Festivals Roll On
This kind of cooperation will certainly continue. Hernandez was moved by it. “There was already a camaraderie in this unique world of people going to film festivals,” he said. “But as someone who has been on the road for almost 30 years, I’ve never felt it as close to my heart as I did last year.” Hernandez discussed ideas with Toronto’s co-heads Cameron Bailey and Joana Vicente, whose festival also took a different turn last year. (Bailey and Vicente were unable to speak at press time due to family vacations.)
The informal support group made bumps in the road less scary, but there were still surprises, some of which were not fully exploited. Celebrating its 71st edition, the Berlinale opted for a two-part structure that shared its virtual screenings with the press and distributors in February but saved potential in-person screenings for the audience for June. Carlo Chatrian, Berlin’s artistic director, is still waiting to understand how his program will play in front of an audience. “On Twitter, the comments are mostly positive, which is good,” he jokes. “But at the same time you ask: what is the truth?”
A Sundance series of drive-in screenings in Los Angeles had to be canceled at the last minute (along with countless hours of work), a victim of the unpredictable coronavirus in transit. “That was a time when I could almost shake my fist to the gods,” said Jackson angrily. And even when the drive-ins were happening, like New York’s sublime Queens Night with Wong Kar-wai’s “In the Mood for Love,” flat parking lots weren’t suitable for reading subtitles.
“It was a nice experience,” confirmed Hernandez. “That means I had to move my car twice to reposition it. In the back there was a small slope, a hill. We called it the balcony. If you were parked on this hill you would have an even better vantage point. “
Even so, after surviving their annus horribilis, the film festivals seem to have been transformed for good. “Being in the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn last year was the beginning of something, not a workaround,” said Hernandez. “If the biggest result of 2020 was that we were back to the way it was in 2021, it would feel like a failure to me. Now we have a little more confidence because we did it once. We have the battle scars too. “
“Things are developing,” says Pierson. “Things are not going back. Every year we approach our work with: What makes sense now? What I personally liked best was that we were able to get to the south-south location of everything. Somehow we were able to provide that on a screen via a portal. “