Last year the Vancouver Island Short Film Festival filled the seats at Malaspina Theatre. This year, viewers will take in the screenings online. (Photo courtesy VISFF)

Last year the Vancouver Island Short Film Festival filled the seats at Malaspina Theatre. This year, viewers will take in the screenings online. (Photo courtesy VISFF)

Vancouver Island Short Film Festival happening online due to COVID-19

Submissions open until June 1, entry free for Island filmmakers

The Vancouver Island Short Film Festival is taking place a little later this year due to uncertainty around COVID-19.

The event, which is normally held in February, is scheduled to be presented virtually on July 23 and 24. Filmmakers from around the world have until June 1 to submit their work, while those based on the Island may enter for free. As usual, two spots, or 10 per cent of the festival’s running time, is reserved for local films.

“We just kept holding off and holding off, hoping that we might be able to run something in 2021 and in person, ideally,” VISFF director Hilary Eastmure said. “But when it became clear that that was not going to be an option, we started looking for other ways to be able to continue the legacy of the [VISFF] and be able to support our local film community while still keeping everyone safe.”

Eastmure said moving to an online model should be “easily doable,” as other film festivals have set examples to follow and there is expertise on the festival board to draw from as well. The VISFF also received a $3,000 B.C. Arts Council grant which she said will go toward artists fees and cash prizes.

Like the in-person version of the festival, the plan is for this year’s event to feature an MC, filmmaker discussions and an award show, only it will all be done remotely. Eastmure said hosting the festival online will also allow for a wider audience and they may keep the films viewable for a short period following the festival as well.

“Online just gives so many more options and more flexibility for viewing,” Eastmure said. “It really does up the accessibility aspect of the film festival so we hope to be able to fully take advantage of that.”

Eastmure only took on the director role last month, after years serving in publicity and submissions coordinator positions. She said her goal for this year is to help the VISFF continue supporting filmmakers in Nanaimo and abroad, especially since COVID-19 has affected their ability to showcase their work.

“While COVID has stopped a lot of things in our lives, I know that artists and filmmakers have still been out there creating and working and shooting and editing,” Eastmure said. “And I know quite a few local filmmakers have short films that they have produced and are ready to start submitting so this is an opportunity for them to be able to show their work and have it appreciated by an audience.”

For more information and to submit, click here.

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