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Until the end of 2019, when everything was relatively fine globally, film festivals were a sought after event.
New blockbusters like Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, the multiple Oscar winner Parasite, and the $1 billion grosser Joker, were all screened at the Cannes And Venice Film Festivals that year.
Now with the global pandemic being a new reality, film festivals are increasingly going online. SXSW, for instance, went virtual within weeks and even partnered with Amazon Prime for an online Film Festival.
Digital solutions are the way forward for many other film festivals, as otherwise, they lose millions in and revenue while scrambling for viewers and distributors for their projects.
Digital platforms and technological solutions make the content more accessible, sustainable and democratic. The streamed screenings and online question and answer sessions bring in unexpected benefits coupled with a vaster reach, due to the elimination of physical constraints and logistical issues associated with big events.
Case in Point: Disabled audiences were earlier unable to access or be part of the event, and were now optimistic about the technological elements deployed, which helped them tremendously.
The digital content ecosystem, once matured, can work as a marketplace for exclusive movie distribution and online screenings of sought-after titles.
While some people still prefer the 'community' allure of a physical festival, with its glamour, energy and buzz, the digital version is here to stay.
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Don't assume your virtual gathering shares the same goal as the canceled in-person one. Keep these questions in mind:
Use everyone's environment to fill the lack of context of virtual gatherings.
A room and location often set the context for the group. And virtual gatherings lack the context to set up the room. To solve this, invite people to help co-create the space. To add warmth, have them sit and place their cameras in front of places that have meaning for them.
Regardless of the size of the gathering, know who's in charge.
A good host knows how to use the mute button, can orient her guests to the gathering's purpose, and will connect and protect her guests.