We Are One: The Film Festival You Can Watch From Home

By Luxe Palmer, Co-Editor-In-Chief

With Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, and other TV subscription platforms’ traffic rising exponentially during the quarantine, it seems the perfect way to unite people during this contrary time is with the art of film.

Youtube, partnering with Sundance, Tribeca, Cannes, and seventeen other notable film festivals, has created an at-home film festival set to take place May 29 – June 7, 2020. The new Youtube Channel will publish full-length films and documentaries, shorts, and other content free of ads and fees to watch. Viewers will have opportunities to donate money towards the World Health Organization COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. As for specific content, the festival has been said to be trying to “salvage” films from the 2020 festival circuit, along with a focus on less-known older films.

“We are proud to join with our partner festivals to spotlight truly extraordinary films and talent, allowing audiences to experience both the nuances of storytelling from around the world and the artistic personalities of each festival.”

Pierre Lescure and Thierry Frémaux, director and president of Cannes Film Festival, respectively

While the Sundance Film Festival already took place early this year, some festival companies have declared that this is not in place of the actual festivals still set to occur this year. Venice Film Festival is currently planning an in-person event to happen in early September. The We Are One Film Festival’s goal is to globally unite all those experiencing the quarantine with the power that film can bring. Along with features, the program also has comedy, panel discussions, and music on their roster.

Though the online film festival idea seems sound, it has sparked a bit of controversy: is releasing films for free on Youtube disrespectful or disfavoring to the filmmakers, or is this the best way to adapt to our unusual situation? Is the benefit unbalanced towards viewers at home and away from the producers of the content? An article from IndieWire gives warning advice to filmmakers about a possible loss of funds and control over their content. We Are One isn’t the only online film festival born from the rubble of COVID-19, though. Amazon Prime Video partnered with the South By Southwest (SXSW) festival to bring another free online film extravaganza. From April 27 to May 6, the event gave limited access to a large number of films, documentaries, and shorts from across the world. The partnership did pay a screening fee to participating filmmakers.

More locally, the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival has “[built] community around film” by releasing independent films through PPLD and Kanopy (ppld.kanopy.com). Apart from giving the opportunity to view films made by women in the comfort of your own home, the organization has set a few dates for their normal in-person showings. On May 12, their Film Club is hosting a free viewing of The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls and a viewing of Saint Misbehavin’: The Wavy Gravy Movie on June 9, both events starting at 7:00 PM. Visit rmwfilm.org for more information.