Actor Vuyo Dabula in Shaft 6, a film that featured at Durban International Film Festival, 2020.
Actor Vuyo Dabula in Shaft 6, a film that featured at Durban International Film Festival, 2020.

5 theatre and film festivals that went virtual in 2020

By Alyssia Birjalal Time of article published Dec 8, 2020

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This year, Covid-19 stopped many local theatre and film festivals dead in their tracks, but thanks to technology, festival-goers were still able to enjoy them virtually, safely from the comfort of their homes.

Here are five local theatre and film festivals that virtually pulled a crowd.

1. Durban International Film Festival

Every year, film lovers from around the world gather in Durban to be a part of the Durban International Film Festival, which normally screens over 100 films in its 10 day run. This year, film-goers had a virtual experience. Drive-in screening was also made available for the opening and closing night films. Despite the new format and fewer films screened, many fans tuned in, making the festival's first virtual event a success.

2. National Arts Festival

The shutdown of theatres left artists out of work during the national lockdown. Luckily, many found an online space to share their creativity. Noticing the influx of online creatives, The National Arts Festival (NAF) reached out to a growing online audience. Organisers held the festival for 10 days, extending it a further 25 days because of the demand. Overall, the 2020 Virtual NAF was a big success.

3. SA Indie Film Festival 2020

The festival went online and gave its audience an unforgettable virtual experience. From online film screenings of short films, animation and music videos to virtual Q&A sessions and master classes with actors and directors, all was provided for fans.This year, for the first time, the festival also included a selection of feature-length films and documentaries from around the world.

4. European Film Festival in South Africa.

Invoking a moment of reflection and the opportunity to reset attitudes to the world and 2020 circumstances, the theme of this year’s 7th edition of the European Film Festival was “Then and Now”. Only available to South African audiences, the festival offered twelve new films. The selection not only entertained, but contributed to our awareness of relationships, guided our actions, and informed our ongoing journey of discovery.

5. Africa Rising International Film Festival

More than nine films and documentaries were screened during the 3 day online festival in November. The festival showed African and international films and documentaries under a resonating theme “Film for Change: GBV and Equality”. Development workshops were held while a skill-sharing platform allowed young aspiring film-makers to learn from and engage with industry professionals. There was also a physical 1 day workshop.

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