Even as Edmonton’s precious Roxy Theatre starts to rebuild, COVID-19 is still presenting some especially tough challenges for those in the business of #yegfilm. This part of our arts scene thrives on large audiences and the buzz created by lots of people together in a darkened cinema sharing their honest and heart-felt reactions to what’s on screen. So, let’s find ways to spend our money, time, and voice to keep these spaces, events, and artists going!
Film Forward Spending
Metro Cinema Society is a vital part of film in Edmonton and they need your support right now. Metro is home to dozens of smaller film festivals and community screenings, and the society helps to showcase a key cinematic building asset in Alberta, the 1940-built Garneau Theatre. You can reach out in a number of ways. To keep up with the latest screen gems, access their virtual screening room, which is streaming new and recent releases from around the globe; half the proceeds of screening fees go right to Metro. In addition, Metro is participating in the Here for Good campaign we highlighted before; you know that a Metro Cinema tshirt would be a fabulous addition to your wardrobe and help them out financially. Plus, you can donate directly to the Metro Cinema Society, a community arts non-profit.
Lots of great local film festivals have been cancelled or postponed in 2020 and could use your financial and moral support as well. Examples include Dreamspeakers (Canada’s longest running Indigenous film festival, postponed to 2021) and Northwest Fest (Canada’s longest running documentary film fest). Northwest Fest went ahead with some online screenings and is hoping to combine with sister festival Rainbow Visions (Edmonton’s LGBTQ2S+ film fest) in November (fingers crossed!). The Edmonton Short Film Festival (Oct. 17-18) is still a go for now and is accepting submissions until June 30. All of these festivals rely on Metro Cinema as a venue.
Run Time: However Long It Takes
There are lots of ways to spend your time and help out #yegfilm right now:
- Check out the Edmonton International Film Festival‘s #EIFFinIsolation daily screenings on social media. Each day, EIFF is sharing a film previously screened at the Festival, with most available free or with a monthly streaming subscription. View the films and share your thoughts on your social to help keep the #yegfilm conversation going. Keep up to date on the status of their 34th Annual Festival, scheduled for Sept. 24-Oct. 3, 2020.
- Another way to share your time is to check out the local film-making organization FAVA – The Film and Video Arts Society of Alberta. These folks have a call out now for a film festival that can likely still go ahead since it already takes place in public spaces (transit stations) and online, so it’s physical-distance-compliant. Submissions to the Gotta Minute Film Festival are open until July 6th. Who knows, maybe you could even spend some time making your own film and see it premiere at the festival in October! If you’ve got more time on your hands for film viewing, look at FAVA TV, where past films by Alberta film-makers are showcased. Find a new #LocalGoodnessYeg favourite film or filmmaker and share it.
- A festival that has adjusted and you can participate in virtually – starting Friday – is the 3rd annual RISE Film Festival. This newish festival showcases films focussing on reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities with many films having an Alberta or Edmonton connection. It’s timed with Reconciliation Week in Edmonton (May 29-June 7)
Project Your Voice
While financial donations can help, the reality is that COVID-19 is going to have long-term impacts on this industry – in screening venues and organizations, but also on the film-making business in Alberta. (You can find out more about that industry here). Filmmakers are among the artists who will need support from governments at all levels (particularly provincial). Write to your MLA and let them know that you value our arts community and that they need financial aid to get them through this time. Amidst government restraint from declining coffers, the temptation will be to cut back on Arts and Culture grants that support filmmakers and organizations like Metro, FAVA, and dozens of local film festivals (that was already happening before COVID-19 in Alberta, in fact). Use your voice to let your City Council, Provincial and Federal leaders know that arts remain vital and are not a “nice to have” during economic lean times.