Daria Gamliel for Cinetalk.net

Following an intense Pandemic festival marathon in 2020’s last quarter, Cinetalk now reemerges from the murk of winter blues, As was the case last year, The Pendance Festival is our guide out of the grey and into the spring season.

To use annoying terms we’ve all probably heard enough the past year, the learning curve of getting a festival online is starting to flatten. Then again, many new challenges still exist. While a vast majority of film festivals have used the Video on Demand format, festival directors and filmmakers struggle with the idea of trying to give the events an interactive community feeling. For this reason, Pendance has opted to not use VOD, and instead offer “live” screenings. Filmgoers can be late to a scheduled film, but must tune in online within a 2-hour window. Once they have chosen to start viewing the film, they will have 8 hours to complete their viewing.

These days it’s easy to attend a Red Carpet event – in PJs. Though virtual festivals bring audiences possibilities they never had before, something less cool has also happened. The novelty of such grand events has been lost. How many people are still wearing sequins and controversial décolletés on a Zoom Red Carpet event? Along with this, filmmakers no longer have the ability to gauge an audience’s reaction while their film is showing.

However, one of the nice things about virtual festivals is that weather, time zones and VISAs or passports no longer hinder attendance. Local festivals are now accessible to larger audiences. Geo-locked screenings do pose a problem to international viewers, but these are hopefully technicalities we will soon enough be able to to combat. The pandemic forced us all to learn and perfect new things with very tight deadlines. What has been accomplished in one year is astounding, despite glitches and disappointments. (Big pat on the back to all of us!).

And with all of that in mind, Cinetalk has been trying to adjust the way we interact with cinema as well. Home cinema may be more comfy, but it’s very different from sitting in those plush, velvety chairs in overly air-conditioned theatres with hundreds of other people. Normally, we chose to preview rather than review festival films, so that people might still have a chance to catch a screening before it stops running (in person). Recently, we have become more lenient toward reviews because shorter viewing windows have a tendency to create more urgency. Pendance too wants to emphasize that “live” aspect of their programming. So, as Cinetalk did last year, we will give shorter but more immediate reviews even if the films are no longer available to watch. We can only hope that with the globalization of home-viewed film events, that those of us who were not fortunate to catch a one-time screening at a festival will be able to catch them later in the year.

Cheers, and stay tuned for our condensed but lovingly curated reviews of what Pendance has to offer this year!