SLO International Film Fest postpones events from April 26 to May 1 | Arts | San Luis Obispo

The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival is banking on the onset of the COVID-19 decline in mid-spring, which is why it recently announced that the festival will be rescheduled from Tuesday, April 26 to Sunday, May 1 this year. Organizers are working hard to create safe, in-person events.

“That’s a big part of why we pushed it back because we really want to get back to all of our favorite sites,” executive director Skye McLennan said on a recent Zoom call. “We’ll be back at the Fremont, Palm Theater, Downtown Center Cinemas, Park Cinemas in Paso Robles, and we’re also working to confirm a few other locations. We may also be doing outdoor screenings. We thought the weather might be more cooperative later in the spring.We’ve noticed that people seem more comfortable with outdoor events, so we’re planning to do a mix of the two.

Last year’s festival was entirely virtual – the only safe option at the time – but McLennan and associate director Grace Tucker found the new modality opened up the festival to a wider audience.

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  • Photos courtesy of San Luis Obispo International Film Festival
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Skye McLennan has been working hard to reschedule this year’s film festival to provide as safe in-person screenings as possible, as well as a virtual component, now scheduled for April 26-May 1.

“We received incredible feedback after our virtual program last year,” McLennan said. “Some of our residents like North County and South County – it was hard for them to come to SLO – so we got a lot of people into the film festival virtually. They absolutely loved the concept, pandemic or not, because they were able to experience the films.”

McLennan added that film festivals around the world are now maintaining a virtual component not only to broaden audiences, but also because it makes film festivals more accessible to people with disabilities or other issues that make it difficult to attend. anybody.

“There are also expanded opportunities for many filmmakers if they are not local to have their families and friends access their films on a festival platform without them having to fly into the region,” Tucker added.

This year, attendees can purchase in-person and virtual single tickets, hybrids or full festival passes at slofilmfest.org.

“Live screenings are $15 and virtual screenings are $12, and there’s also an all-virtual all-access pass or all-access mogul pass, which is in-person or virtual,” Tucker explained.

This year, the festival received a record number of submissions – over 900 – which it narrows down to around 10 narrative feature films and 10 feature documentaries, around 12 narrative shorts and 12 documentary shorts, 10 Filmmakers of Tomorrow (a youth competition), 10 Central Coast filmmakers and 10 music videos. Organizers say “about 10” to leave room to add more if entries are too large to turn down.

“It’s quite competitive,” admitted McLennan. “We really want to be more selective with the films so that every film we select can really be fully promoted so that we get good attendance at screenings. It was really encouraging to know that there were still people making movies despite the pandemic, and being really creative. We have a really strong lineup.”

McLennan and Tucker are also actively looking for volunteers, which keeps the festival going.

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ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR Grace Tucker, along with Skye McLennan and their team of selectors, screened over 900 entries to narrow down the festival to around 80 offers.  Discounted early bird passes are available through January 31.  - PHOTOS COURTESY OF SAN LUIS OBISPO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

  • Photos courtesy of San Luis Obispo International Film Festival
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR Grace Tucker, along with Skye McLennan and their team of selectors, reviewed over 900 entries to narrow down the festival to around 80 offers. Discounted early bird passes are available through January 31.

“We rely on the support of volunteers and are looking for people to do a wide range of things at the festival, from checking people in to helping out the filmmakers to help with our head office, ticketing, etc.”, McLennan said. “You can volunteer for a shift, which is usually a few hours, or you can do a lot. This is a great opportunity to get involved and you can sign up on our website.”

What excites them most is returning to live events. Last year, they recorded over 60 virtual Q&As with filmmakers, but the in-person events offer so much more.

“We hope people will come out and support these filmmakers,” McLennan said. “They’ve had a very difficult few years and are very eager to show their films to an audience. I think we forget how great it is for a filmmaker and how great it is to be there and to to witness it. I can’t wait to come back in person and remind people of the magic of cinema.”

McLennan and Tucker have a plan in place to go virtual if the pandemic takes a turn for the worse, but early indications suggest the omicron variant is peaking and should be gone by spring.

Ultimately, film festivals like this provide a voice for independent cinema, for films that would never be made in Hollywood. Independent films are where the risks are taken and film festivals provide one of the few places to see these kinds of films. For movie lovers, this is truly an unmissable event.

“It really is,” McLennan said. “I hear a lot about streaming platforms and the insane amount of content we have now. I have Hulu and, like, six other platforms that I subscribe to, so when you sit down to watch, there’s overwhelming choices.

“I think what people forget is that we create a selection of films and highlight and defend films that would completely get lost in the shuffle.” Δ

Contact senior writer Glen Starkey at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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