VIEWS: In the new COVID-19 reality, the virtual film festival has become the new normal.
Lauren Wissot
Lauren Wissot is a US film critic and journalist, filmmaker and programmer, and a contributing editor at both
Published date: April 17, 2020

Covering the CPH:DOX – one of the spring fests to respond to COVID-19 by moving online rather than cancel or postpone – remotely from several time zones away proved a surprising respite from the global coronavirus chaos. Not only was I able to tune in to fascinating virtual talks (see Edward Snowden) at all hours of the day, and discover nonfiction gems (via the online CPH:MARKET, the most abundantly stocked market I’d seen in weeks) – but I was able to do it all from the comfort of home in my pajamas (and sans jet lag).

Of course, there’s the disappointment of not being able to binge on cinema in a vibrant international city in a country with an actual functioning government. But if there’s one thing viewing so many foreign docs over the years has taught me, that’s a First World letdown. I’m not fearing the health crisis unfolding from inside a refugee camp in the Middle East, nor from behind the bars of a US prison. I’m in a place with abundant sunshine, early spring weather and – now shed of its street-clogging tourists – plenty of space to move about safely outside.

Of course, there’s the disappointment of not being able to binge on cinema in a vibrant international city in a country with an actual functioning government.

This isn’t to say there aren’t steep downsides to covering a festival while social distancing – most acutely laid bare by the emotional loss of offline, face-to-face connection. (That and the fact that I seem to get sucked into watching way too many films – evidenced by my recently awaking from a dream with the immediate thought, «that ending didn’t work»). I’ve long been aware that the in-person fest is a viral transmission hotspot – I used to half-joke that skipping last November’s IDFA also meant missing my annual IDFA cold – but it’s also an idea …


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