Certainly, this year’s crop of film festivals have a problem on their hands.
Due to the ongoing global pandemic, fests have had to find new ways to continue the tradition of sharing challenging and entertaining stories that may never find an audience any other way. While some have made the decision to broadcast their films entirely through virtual platforms (HotDocs, for one), others, such as Cannes, have opted to shut down entirely and release their list of entrants online without screenings.
Despite being absolutely necessary, these changes and reboots have threatened the most important aspect of any festival: community. While films may be the building block, one of the most important aspects remains the people who simply want to digest these unique stories and engage their subjects together.
But this year’s Vaughan International Film Festival (which we’ll just call VFF from now on) may have an answer.
With their decision to present their slate of films in a drive-in format, VFF has created something unique that maintains a communal atmosphere while also maintaining proper social distancing and safety protocols. By inviting food trucks and spacing out vehicles, this year’s edition of VFF has the atmosphere of a simple but trendy block party that never feels like your health is at risk. (Plus, let’s be serious. It’s always fun to check out movies under the stars at the drive-in.)
Now in their 8th year, VFF remains committed to ‘inspiring, fostering and endorsing local and international artists in filmmaking’. By selecting films from around the world, VFF does an excellent job of providing opportunities for short filmmakers to bring their voice to the public. As always, this year’s line-up consists of shorts from around the world that challenge and delight. Grouped together by rating (PG-13, 14A and 18A), each evening consists of 10-12 shorts that surprise. From darkly intense (Cul-de-sac, Singer Not the Song) or the charming and funny (Made Public, A Real Adventure), each film differs wildly in tone and style yet somehow seem linked when presented together.
If you’re new to the film festival game, it’s possible that an evening of short films may not seem like something that you’re interested in but, hopefully, that’s not the case. Yet again, Vaughn offers a broad range of films that should ensure that there’s something for everyone. While, admittedly, the shorts might benefit from brief (recorded) introductions from the filmmakers to give it that added festival feeling, that is an incredibly minor quibble. What matters most is that the Vaughan International Film Festival has done another excellent job collecting stories that are worth seeing for yourself.
Best of all, it’s just nice to be able to come together again.
VFF is running on weekends through September 27th, 2020. You can see their line-up and buy tickets from their website here.