Although COVID has ruined many plans for live events over the past year, this certainly doesn’t mean that several of them can’t still go ahead in a virtual capacity. Film festivals are no exception to this rising trend and the producers of them have suggested that the vast majority of them look set to be hybrid events for quite some time into the future. Below are just a few examples of hybrid film festivals that have either taken place already or will be happening soon. In 2020 the Toronto International Film Festival was showcased on a virtual platform

1. Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The festival will be running from March 31 through to April 10, 2021 – a full two months later than usual – and it’s going to be a hybrid of live and virtual programming.

Event organizers have said that they’re planning a build-out of two beachside drive-in theaters that will be at the Santa Barbara City College. Over 80 film screenings are expected to take place, all free of charge. However, it’s essential for attendees to RSVP before the event.

The event will offer a full-scale virtual segment that features online film screenings, tributes, filmmaker Q&As and various industry panels. Despite the pandemic, a record number of film submissions were received this year.

2. American Black Film Festival (ABFF)

This film festival will be taking place in the form of an in-person segment from November 3 to 7, 2021, and will then continue virtually from November 8 to 14 this year. 

Features will include panel discussions, studio screenings and an array of networking events that will all help celebrate Black entertainment and Black and Brown filmmakers. ABFF Ventures president, Nicole Friday said, “We are so excited to return to Miami Beach to celebrate 25 years of storytelling and storytellers, and engage with a global audience around the world through our virtual programming on ABFF PLAY.”

Last year’s event attracted online viewers from more than 90 different countries, and this year looks set to be even more popular. 

3. 2021 Sundance Film Festival

The Sundance Film Festival took place digitally by means of a Sundance-built virtual platform as well as in-person on satellite screens throughout the country and it ran from January 28 through to February 3. 

Festival attendees were able to gather in virtual waiting rooms, take part in Q&A sessions and interact in various different ways, while being treated to no less than 50 shorts, 71 features, 14 new frontier projects and 4 Indie series throughout the hybrid event. 

Owing to the fact that the above mentioned hybrid film festivals have attracted extremely high levels of interest, it could indicate that more event planners than ever will be considering this when organizing film festivals in the future. 

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