What is happening to film festivals in the age of Netflix and COVID-19.

Alex Klein

At the time of our ever-increasing involvement with digital technology and personal devices, it is more important than ever to experience real human connections. One of the popular ways to keep in touch with friends is to go to the movie theater. As mundane as it seems, with COVID on the rise, even that act became a luxury.

While streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ provide most of our film-related entertainment these days and were not get affected by the virus, the film industry still heavily relies on movie-goers. Because of COVID, even big studios felt the decrease in profits. Small organizations, like local theaters and film centers, got hit the hardest.

Many local film centers across the country get most of their profits from the annual independent film festivals. They operate as non-profits and can’t afford to skip a year, as these events take about a week each year provide the biggest exposure to the organizations. Film festivals aim to introduce audiences to emerging filmmakers, attract new members, and please their already existing donors. Offering grand opportunities for the public to see works of the filmmakers from around the globe, film festivals are places of gathering of like-minded people, where a lot of networking takes place.

This year, every organization is trying to adjust to new challenges. Some famous festivals like Cannes, Venice, TIFF, and Tribeca united for a new Youtube-driven festival, while some local festivals like the one in Telluride, which takes place over the Labor Day weekend, had to close its doors, hopefully temporarily.

Denver Film Festival, which starts at the end of October each year, had to re-format its practice too, to adjust to the new realities of 2020. This year it took place virtually with film viewings limited to those who were present in Colorado.

“Even though watching films online is fun, the experience of the film festival cannot be complete without the physical components of the live conversations, virtual reality room, discussion panels, and of course, parties!”

Despite the unexpected challenges, we are happy to see that Denver Film was still able to pull it off in 2020. Even though it is not in the same format, most of the organization’s goals were still achieved. Hopefully, Denver Film will open its doors once again when it will be safe, and we will have a grand time.

Denver Film still offers a few options for cinephiles while waiting to restore its normal operations. Film on the Rocks in the Red Rocks Amphitheater temporarily became a drive-in experience that is open to the public from August through October, while its website has new showings all year long. Check out their website for the latest Independent Film releases and keep an eye for the next Film Festival in 2021!

about the author

Alex / 29


I am a 3D Modeler, Graphic Designer and film enthusiast from overseas.