Could Online Film Festivals be Possible?


The 2018’s Toronto International Film Festival is showing recently. Many filmmakers and famous stars attend to this event, including Timothee Chalamet, one of my favourite actor. His new movie, Beautiful Boy, also has its world premiere at this year’s TIFF. Although it is a pity that this film didn’t show in 2018’s MIFF and I didn’t have chance to meet Timmy, I still followed his latest news through YouTube, Instagram or Twitter.


It is really convenient nowadays. I only need to subscribe TIFF’s account ‘TIFF Talks’ on YouTube, then I won’t miss any live streams of the important activities that I interested, like Beautiful Boy Cast and Crew Q&A. This reminds me of the discussion about the possibility of online film festivals.


When I firstly heard about online film festivals, I thought it was impossible and meaningless, because I think one important reason for holding film festival is its significance of offering a place or a free environment for filmmakers and cinephiles to discuss about movies and exchange ideas. As Valck (2016, p. 1) describes in his article, ‘as events that are relevant for society, that matter in the lives of people visiting them, offering a social environment where one can feel part of a community’. Therefore, I used to think that film festival should be an event that happens in real. It should allow people to come into the theatres and sit down to enjoy the movies together, and it also provides places for people to ask questions and talk about their feelings about these movies. Everyone should get their chances to participate in the events and get close to movies and the process of making movies. If the film festivals are held online, then people cannot talk to each other face to face and miss the experience of watching films on big screens. A main problem of online film festivals is that many audiences may not have the technology to download and watch films in an enjoyable way (Goldman 2000, p. 1).


However, when I watched the online live stream of Beautiful Boy talk in TIFF 2018, I did feel that it was a fantastic experience to see what was happening at the film festival instantly. If online audiences get the access to watch movies online audience and ask questions after that, and then the guests can also answer the questions through the Internet. This would just be like a real film festival, and people still get the opportunity to involve in the event even they cannot fly to the cities and meet the cast and crew face to face. Meanwhile, it could save audiences’ money and time. The sponsors also don’t need to pay much money for renting the venue. Matt Hulett (cited in Goldman 2000, p. 2), Atom’s marketing director, said that ‘the technology issues will sort themselves out, and then we’ll be positioned to take advantage of online revenue opportunities as they develop’. The online film festival may still need time to develop its technology, but I think it will happen more and more frequently in the future, maybe just few years later. And until that time, more audiences can enjoy the advantages of online film festivals.



Goldman, M 2000, Film Biz in cyberspace: The state of online film festivals, Millimeter – The Magazine of Motion Picture and Television Production, vol. 28, no. 3, p. 26.

Valck, Md 2016, What is a film festival? How to study festivals and why you should, in Md, Valck, et al. (edn). Film Festivals: History, Theory, Method, Practice, Routledge, New York, NY.

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